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Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s


[Mariel Recordings; 2010]

By ; October 15, 2010 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

The last time Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s released music, they released it twice. The band recorded a ton of songs and disagreed with Epic Records over which should make the cut, resulting in two CDs, one filled with songs the band preferred called Animal! and the other with songs the label liked better, aptly titled Not Animal. The fact that a companion Not Buzzard album did not accompany their third full-length, Buzzard, is indicative of their split with the major label. The band released this album on their own label, Mariel Recordings, but the switch did nothing to stave off drama during the recording process. Between Animal! and Buzzard, the band relocated to Chicago after the Indianapolis home in which all previous seven members lived was damaged in a fire. The combination of a new label, new landscape and new lineup (Brian Deck on drums, Ronnie Kwasman on guitar and Cameron McGill on keyboards) created almost an entirely new sound.

First track “Birds” starts off mellow enough, but soon the song is engulfed in a raucous chorus in which Richard Edwards yells repeatedly, “Let’s have a party, let’s have a party.” But don’t be fooled: party music is nowhere to be found on this disc. Edwards’ impassioned cries and surrealist, stoner lyrics are nothing new, but instead of the pretty, orchestral sounds found on past efforts, most of these songs are pretty dark. No longer are lyrics like “I did a horrible thing to that girl, I bred my misery and drowned it in her” masked by charming, upbeat melodies. Instead, we get the brooding “Let’s Paint Our Teeth Green” and gritty “New York City Hotel Blues,” in which Edwards promises, “I’m never gonna break your heart, not unless I want to.” The band plays with edgier sounds on many of the tracks. Standout “Will You Love Me Forever?” is anchored by a really cool bass line and “Earth to Aliens: What Do You Want?” even flirts with classic guitar riffs. It’s not a complete departure, though. “Lunatic, Lunatic, Lunatic” and the intimate acoustic track “I Do” find the band in their sonic comfort zone. Ironically enough, the songs that will remind fans of Margot’s signature sound are often the songs to skip, devoid of energy or inspiration.

The band recorded in an abandoned Chicago movie theatre, which lent itself to the band’s more cinematic tendencies. “Your Lower Back” begins with a monotone warning against sex that was probably drawn from the 8mm”nudie cutie” films the band apparently discovered in the theatre basement. And the quirks don’t end there. Fans of “Paper Kitten Nightmare” and “Hello Vagina” from their previous LPs will get a kick out of “Tiny Vampire Robots.” But when the mood was light, these songs fit in with laidback ease. This time around, the nonsensical lyrics and goofy titles come off as trying too hard to seem silly or offhand, as if the band got high and threw down some tracks one night. This is a shame, since the band’s new sound suits them remarkably well and the album is generally successful as a deliberate work. Margot and the gang should start taking themselves seriously because after this release, listeners definitely will.


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