Ah, Jim “Foetus” Thirlwell, that crazy, old coot. The man Nine Inch Nails and Ministry owe a sizable (as in “the size of Texas”) debt to, and a man of many monikers (his newest one’s called Manorexia – brilliant!), Thirlwell-as-Foetus returns to the fray after an uncharacteristic hiatus with Flow, his most raucously raunchy, schizophrenically sleazy, just plain shit-kickin’ record since unarguable apex Thaw. To blithely state that Flow is a “return to form” neither condescendingly undermines nor undercuts the album, because Thirlwell returns to what he does best, never sounding more focused or hell-bent for (torn) leather than he does here: Neubauten-unto-Swans industrial clang, Birthday Party-unto-Gallon Drunk gutter noir, and hellish swing so demonic, it makes that one Squirrel Nut Zippers’ single look like Phil Collins, with his smart-assed scowl over the top of it all, spitting bleakly humorous invective at every (crooked) turn. Each style seamlessly integrated within one song, each style standing on their own – usually, as Flow often jarringly shifts back n’ forth to each from track to track – it matters not: Flow is downright scary, even in its most placid moments, and best of all, you just know it all comes so naturally to Foetus – now what could be scarier than that?! Truly, in these fake, plastic “industrial” times, it’s comforting to see a curmudgeon like Thirlwell taking the torch from those he unknowingly inspired well before they were in diapers, carrying it for miles and miles, and finally snubbing its flame out on his dirt-encrusted chest. Now that is the real sound of beauty, my people. Brilliant in every sense of the word.
Thirsty Ear, 274 Madison Ave., Suite 804, New York, NY 10016; http://www.foetus.org