[4 October 2007]
Tim Green asks a lot of any listener. It’s not so much that he makes particularly demanding music, but Green forces tough questions with almost everything he does. Way ahead of the hipster metal movement, The Fucking Champs forced indie kids to ask themselves if unrepentant shredding was acceptable on its own merits. Combining that band with with Trans Am had fans asking whether the ass-kicking potential of both groups could be combined into anything but a dilution of their strengths. As an engineer, Green has raised doubts about how effectively such a bruising riffmeister could reign in his impulses to record more dynamic efforts from the likes of Ben Chasney and Joanna Newsom. Now Green poses a new question with another album as Concentrick: if the “Fucking” was neutered out of “The Fucking Champs” would anything enjoyable remain? While the answer to every prior question may have been resoundingly affirmative, this time the results aren’t so reassuring. What works on Aluminum Lake are the couple tracks that could pass as songs from The Fucking Champs. Those harmonic heavyweights, like “White Bear” and “Divine Wind,” would benefit from some more aggressive company. As it is, they just get lost amidst a wash of faux New Age and inconsequential quasi-folk. Avid fans of the Fucking Champs may delight in those few exceptions, but the ratio of bad to good and overall unevenness of the album make Aluminum Lake best left undisturbed.