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Wussy

Attica!

(Shake It; US: 13 May 2014; UK: 19 May 2014)

Wussy has been keeping the ‘80s-era Amerindie fires burning for nearly 10 years, stealthily compiling – between honest day jobs – one of the strongest indie rock discographies of the 21st century. Attica! keeps the hot streak alive for the band and finds its frontpeople Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker quandrangulating growing old gracefully, looking back at past mistakes, planning for a better, hopeful future and, of course, rocking out. On opener “Teenage Wasteland”, Walker – sounding for all the world like Failer-era Kathleen Edwards – remembers the childhood flashpoint of connecting to the raw power of “Baba O’Riley” (“when the kick of the drum lined up to the beat of your heart”), while Cleaver proves his lessons at the Peter Buck School of Plangent Lead Guitar were not in vain. Continuing the classic rock vein, the band invokes Neil Young on the autumnal steel-pedal infused “Halloween”: “It was just like ‘Sugar Mountain’ but I didn’t know it then.” (Ain’t that always the case?)

Elsewhere, Cleaver promises/threatens, “I’m gonna kill you with goodness and light” on the urgent, straight-outta-’96 rocker “Rainbows and Butterflies” and later admits, “This is not a home, this is an apartment” on the resigned “Acetylene” – one of the most overly divorced/blue collar lyrics ever put to tape (and maybe calling back to the 2009 self-titled record’s assertion, “Some call this living, but I call it living a lie” on “Dreadful Sorry”). As with every Wussy album, there’s not a dud in the bunch, and it all closes on the hopeful (for Wussy) “Beautiful”, where a cleansing home fire leaves Cleaver and Walker’s joint narrators realizing that they’re “not the monsters” they once were. Rock lifers, but hardly rock stars, Wussy’s reports from the front lines remind us that we’re all trying to figure out these messy things we call life.

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