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Album Review

Like most things on their side of the Atlantic, Americans have a choice when it comes to Mclusky. There is a limited, triple-disc box set that features the single disc here (all A-sides), a platter of B-sides (that guitarist/vocalist Andy Falkous has heaps of trouble with, according to the liner notes), and another of "C"-sides (live cuts, demos, rarities, and so on that he likes almost as much as disc one). Mclusky was one of the U.K.'s woolliest, funniest, grittily in-your-face rock & roll bands, though they were drastically underappreciated in their native Wales as well as abroad. They issued three full-lengths and a slew of singles during their lifetime. So much indie rock is predicated on a few different "acceptable" tropes; these yobs didn't play to any of them. That may sound like hyperbole for the benefit of kindness for the deceased, but it's not. Falkous and his mates knew how to tear down a joint when they were on, and they certainly understood how to make singles. They were totally obnoxious — often evil little jerks on record — but the music not only holds up, it put to shame so much of what was around them at the time that it brings a snide tear to your eye to think of them being gone. Of the 12 tracks here, there isn't a song in the bunch to cast off. This was a band that knew about Gang of Four, Fugazi's earliest incarnation, California's Adolescents, Big Black, and lots of other stuff — and had fun with all of them while remaining utterly true to their own rusty-nail, tetanus-inducing vision. Here you get screaming, completely freaked-out garage punk in "Joy," and buzz saw, train wreck fuzz guitar in "Rice Is Nice," with screaming lead vocals and two-part harmony refrains. The distorto-flaming-car bassline on "That Man Will Not Hang" is one Dave Allen would have prostituted himself for back in the Go4 days, even if this tune apes them and the Fall circa "How I Wrote Elastic Man." The beautifully ragged garage pop of "She Will Only Bring You Happiness" is simply glorious for its buzzing drones, slippery and deceptively simple hook, and macabre lyrics sung so sensitively: "Note to invading aliens avoid this town/Like this town avoided us/Like murder stalked the valley/Where this woman used to live/And bathe/And breathe and be murdered." It all ends with the true classic — and favorite of Falkous — "Without MSG I Am Nothing." It's all buzz, chaos, and loopy vocals sung, howled in falsetto, and chanted: "Everywhere I look is a darkness/I get my MSG from digital TV...You are the only one who has no trousers on." One can hear John Lydon having a ball with this one, and the messed-up, sideways drum thud lends a narcotic beat to the over-the-top guitar distortion on the simple riff on which everything is based (except for that little fall-apart progresso-punk thing they do for a bridge). This disc is a wild, strewn mess; it creates a glorious din that has humor by the bushel as well as warmth, danger, and just plain loopy wisdom. And it rawks. Mclusky may not be missed by many, but those who heard, believed. For them, this is a bittersweet, spit-in-your-eye goodbye.

Biography

Formed: 1998 in Cardiff, Wales

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Mclusky, a ragged Welsh trio indebted to both punk and indie rock, first showed up on the scene in 1998. Led by Andrew Falkous (vocals/guitar), the band also originally included Matthew Harding (drums) and Jonathan Chapple (bass). Mclusky debuted on wax in the U.K. with 2000's My Pain and Sadness Is More Sad and Painful Than Yours (Fuzzbox). They next signed with Too Pure and hooked up with Steve Albini to produce their sophomore effort. The holdover singles Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues and To Hell...
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