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The Menace

Five years have passed since the eponymous debut by Elastica. What's happened in that time? Well, in a nutshell, pop music has taken a nose-dive into the land of Mickey Mouse. The aggro sector is now dominated by hip-hop-metal hybrids and rock in general has lost its creativity and edginess. Fortunately, The Menace, Elastica's sophomore does not fall into any on those trappings. What they did lose is guitarist Donna Matthews, bassist Annie Holland (only to get her back again), a record deal with Geffen and some time. After the rather disappointing 6-Track EP, my expectations were not too high. Four of the cuts on this album appeared on that EP, although in rawer forms. It was with some uncertainty that I slid the cd into my stereo.

The bombastic "Mad Dog God Dam" starts things off with a blast. I remember about five years ago I read Donna Matthews laughingly say the next album would have keyboards. It does. But not in a bad way. Brit-pop fan? You'll dig this. The catchy trademark catchy guitar hooks are still in abundance. The old cut (often heard at live gigs) "Generator" makes its proper debut and it sounds terrific. Elastica, half-new as they are sound tight and fit. The Fall's Mark E. Smith rightfully takes over vocal duties for "How He Wrote Elastica Man." A fun romp to be sure. "Image Change" could be autobiographical but Is this band really that different? it's a trippy spacy song that incorporates more keyboards and studio tricks but it still sounds like an Elastica song. The catchy "Your Arse My Place" again shows at hat even after five tumultuous years Elastica is still Elastica. Things slow down a bit and get kind of close on "Human" it shows a slightly different side of the band. Nothing Stays the Same is a Matthews some and when presented in its fleshed out form here it's a decent song but lacks a certain zest. "Miami Nice," which also appeared on the 6-track EP fits in better here in this context but I still can't see it as much other

than filler. "Love like Ours" is a return to form. Is it about Justine Frischnmann's breakup with Damno Albarn? Maybe... One of the best moments on the album is "My Sex." It's a beautifully personal song about desire. Truly a poetic moment. It may tale a few time to pickup the words but they lyric sheet helps. The Menace comes to a close with a not necessarily timely cover of Trio's "Da Da Da."

Now if you expected The Menace to sound like the first album then you will be let down. It does not sound like it took five years to make this album because it doesn't have that high sheen you'd expect to find when a band ads keyboards. If you care to hear a band progress their art without sounding like they've listened to focus groups and have done market surveys then you'll dig this. It's still very British. That has not changed. It may take a few listens because it's got a lot of layers but it's worth the effort.


Track Listing

  1. Mad Dog God Dam
  2. Genrerator
  3. How He Wrote Elastica Man
  4. Image Change
  5. Your Arse, My Place
  6. Human
  7. Nothing Stays the Same
  8. Miami Nice
  9. Love Like Ours
  10. KB
  11. My Sex
  12. The Way I Like It
  13. Da Da Da

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