Last year, McLusky made a whole country musically relevant again. After England drowned itself in rainy day Britpop and weeping rock ‘n’ roll throughout the ‘90s, McLusky’s sophomore album, McLusky Do Dallas, savagely beat it into a bloody and bruised corpse. McLusky Do Dallas was a brutally sarcastic album that violently squirmed and writhed somewhere between the genres of post-punk and noise-rock. And now we get to find out how they got there.
With the album at hand—a reissue of McLusky’s debut album—we discover a band that’s been violent and sarcastic long before Steve Albini took the reigns as producer for McLusky Do Dallas. The proof even rests in the disc’s title—My Pain and Sadness is More Sad and Painful Than Yours—as McLusky’s acerbic commentary and extreme hatred for their musical countrymen is focused and refined even further.
My Pain and Sadness Is More Sad and Painful Than Yours introduces itself appropriately when the opening cut, “Joy”, absolutely slays sound in its resurrection of Nirvana if they wore their Black Flag and the Melvins influences on their tattered sleeves as the song kicks, screams, and scars the silence around it, then stops at just over a minute. Pain and Sadness is replete with many more likeminded tracks, with McLusky’s foundation as acidic noise-punks clearly paved in the more intense and extreme moments of their debut disc.
“Joy”, undeniably one of the album’s best tracks, is joined in its freaked-out, fucked-up punk rock nature by “Rice Is Nice” and “Mi-o-mai”. The former sounds like the Ramones’ punk dissonance as interpreted in the year 2003 with a barely-a-minute song length satiated by slashing treble guitar feedback and slurred, shout-along vocals. Recalling punk rock in its more pure, natural essence is “Mi-o-mai” as its spiky guitars and even spikier words flare up and scorch your speakers.
However, what makes Pain and Sadness an odder, more perplexing precursor to McLusky Do Dallas‘s ruthlessness are the moments of melodic, pop-leaning songs. Although many of the album’s 15 tracks conjoin McLusky’s more familiar punk-noise with shards of mangled melody and disguised pop tracks, this English three-piece strike gold when they either go for the proverbial throat or restrain themselves and swath their songs in sublime pop. Of all the tracks resembling the latter, “Flysmoke” is clearly McLusky’s frontrunner.
The song quickly slinks into a downcast tone as drums tap along with hi-hats while a guitar plucks a sweet melody, soon to be followed by an accompanied vocal section. “Flysmoke” is easily the least McLusky-like track on Pain and Sadness, but it also illustrates a side to McLusky rarely seen in their cynical, raucous punk guise. It’s also one of the best tracks on their debut disc.
My Pain and Sadness Is More Sad and Painful Than Yours exits in typical McLusky fashion as the three-some tears through the rhythmic stomp of the distorted and searing “World Cup Drumming”. It concludes an album that’s a bit uneven and mismatched, but thrilling and enticing through every track. Unlike most albums I’ve reviewed, the successor of the topic album has already materialized. So, I would say that through a bit of honing and evolution, we should be hearing greatness in the near future from the three boys in McLusky. But we already have.