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
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
- Mad Dog God Dam
- How He Wrote Elastica Man
- Image Change
- Your Arse, My Place
- Nothing Stays the Same
- Miami Nice
- Love Like Ours
- My Sex
- The Way I Like It
- Da Da Da