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The Industrial Evolution

Small Factory

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Album Review

A collection of singles and compilation tracks from 1991-1994, most of which haven't appeared elsewhere, Industrial Evolution is a fine introduction to the band, offering a narrative of their progression. The songs employ a light touch, with warm, open-hearted melodies and a fragile emotionalism that epitomizes a vein of college rock at the time. The first singles draw heavily from the catchy, ringing acoustic-guitar approach of late-'80s British bands like the Wedding Present and the Smiths, mostly focusing on the staples: love and girls. Despite their self-consciously artless speak/sing, their early work treads dangerously close to twee, what with the sunny melodies, backing "ahhs," and female fixation. But something extraordinary happens midway through the album, and like a teenage growth spurt, they achieve an almost-shocking maturity, beginning with the track "Hey Lucille," which showcases remarkable assurance on a slow-build rave, riding a faintly country sound and growing in volume and intensity. It's followed by the album's true gem, a sturdy little lethargic love song, "If You Hurt Me," where after making vague threats in the refrain and running the narrative through the verse, the male/female duet croons, "If you break my heart/I'll smash up your car," as the song roars to a close, the acoustic guitars growing fuzzy and menacing. Indeed, a much firmer grasp of dynamics and more adventurous verse-chorus-verse constructions elevate the rest of the album far above that of the first half, indicating their growing skills. While still on an early-'80s anglophile tip, the songs can now stand on their own and have lost their feel of slavish genuflection. "Lose Your Way" is an example of this transformation, employing a round in singing a soaring love song as good anything released that year.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s

While never the most popular, most acclaimed, or most innovative act on the underground pop scene, in their own way, Small Factory crystallized and articulated the effervescent brilliance of American indie rock like no other band of their era. With their artfully tuneless vocals, primitive but indelible melodies, and singular combination of innocence and abandon, the group captured the sound and spirit of their moment to perfection. Small Factory formed in Providence, RI, in 1991, teaming singer/bassist...
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The Industrial Evolution, Small Factory
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