I’ll Take It
Scott Walker playing heavy metal? A deep, velvety baritone weaving through uber-distorted guitar crunchery? Yep. That’s only the first of many “holy shit!” moments within the new Mink Lung’s platter. Oh man, if the whole record was like “Black Balloon,” that would have been enough for me. But Mink Lungs like to push themselves just a wee bit more (even if they did tease me so with that winning sonic formula, god!). “Starting From Scratch” is a bit much, swerving from Counting Crows pastiche to little noise blips and disco detours. “Men In Belted Sweaters” is way too mid-’90s quirky indie for me, up to and including pinching a Matthew Sweet riff. Ouch. “Awesome Pride” sees a female vocalist take to the fore amid some angular Au Pairs or Slits-esque weirdness, and then Scott Walker voice comes back! Yes! This band has more potential vocalists than the Beatles. “Bunny Bought A Spaceship” occupies the hitherto-undiscovered deadspace between Lambchop and the Residents, elegiac yet insane. “Pugnose Apt.” is unhinged rock that Eric Gaffney would be pleased with. Ditto for “Dishes,” although a little more cutesy and naïve. “X-Ray Gun” is even better, with a motorik drone forming a strong spinal column for serrated guitar interruptions and deep authoritative vocals begging, “baby don’t go.” “Gorilla” thrashes about incoherently like an anglophile Minutemen, oh yes. All manner of time changes, skronk and surreal lyrics. “I’ll Take It” is like Catatonia through a weird, cracked-filter with strangulated vocals until the whole affair explodes in a sugar fix of fuzzed-out guitar drone. There’s a good reason that this is the title track. “Secret Admirer” is just total spare beauty: keyboard and sitar drone, two-step snare drum and oddly affecting vocals that sound like they’re crooned by an eighty year-old man. “Catch Me” boasts the sunniest California-style pop since “Steal My Sunshine” or “Good Vibrations” — far out, man, those ringing guitars and bright girl-boy vocals. This is followed by the exhilarating hardcore skronkfest that is loosely titled “Mrs. Lester.” Clever boys and girls, go figure. “Flying Saucer Home” brings it, and the flying saucers home, on a pogo-worthy backbeat with a cloying ethereal girl/whiskey-and-cigarettes boy vocal pairing. So much more “worldly” than yer usual willowy indie voices.
The songs are short, sharp and shocking, almost as if the band is bursting with so many ideas and schemes that the songs themselves are tossed off lightning-speed, relay-style, with new vocalists tagging in to relieve and cast airs. Kinda like the White Album in that regard, but with wayyyyy more group cohesion. Popular music forms don’t usually accommodate voracious intellects/miniscule attention spans as the Mink Lungs. A mixed bag in the best sense of the words.
Arena Rock: www.arenarockrecordings.com