In a world of UK exports that rely on Britrock dawdlers and flavor-of-the-week trends, rock is in need of an antidote — something to cure the jaded British scene from itself. That answer comes in the form of spiky guitars, jutting rhythms and piercing cries of insensible lyrics from the UK noise-mongers Mclusky who — to paraphrase Refused — have a bone to pick and a few to break with their native musical counterparts. Their sophomore effort, Mclusky Do Dallas, stands as the antagonist to normal rock outcroppings in England: its guitars stab, its drums explode, and it possesses true rock ‘n’ roll virility rarely heard from in times of “intellectual”-founded indie rock and introspective whining.
Rightfully carrying the torch of early ’90s noise-rock and igniting their destructive instruments with it, this album features all the elements that first pegged the genre to the angular indie underground while simultaneously shoving it to a new, cliffhanging edge. Even Steve Albini, the veritable god of independent music, gives his seal of approval by tweaking Mclusky’s emotionally unstable noise-rock/post-punk hybrid into its most dynamic and bloodthirsty incarnation yet.
Pushing Mclusky Do Dallas to go for the throat rather than rehash its Jesus Lizard-esque predecessors is Mclusky’s ability to seamlessly teeter on the brink of sarcastic hilarity and genuine insanity. “The World Loves Us and is Our Bitch”, for example, may seem pretentiously titled, but its bass pummeling assault of screeching vocals and madman guitar upheavals soon reveal Mclusky as serious noise monsters with an unhealthy penchant for snide comedy — giving them an intangible edge over their peers. But, the scary and equally entertaining aspect is that when Mclusky pens such obtrusions as, “I’m fearful I’m fearful I’m fearful of flying and flying is fearful of me,” on “Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues”, the music’s clashing tectonic plates of psycho-rock leave their insensible lyrics and gaudy song titles as mere side notes.
Screaming and tearing normal musical confines to shreds, Mclusky obliterates the typical archetype of the three-member guitar-bass-drums outfit and reassembles it as a battering ram of bass, a lightning storm of guitars and a corkscrew of vocals as direct as a car crash. But exactly half way through their 14-track effort — where you expect their music to culminate in a mouth-frothing exercise in noise — comes a captivating and almost introspective bass line that slinks beneath downcast harmonies and truly melodic vocals. As that track, the eloquently titled “Fuck this Band”, features a rare shot at lulling bass-and-vocal minimalism, the album loses no steam in overall skull fracturing intensity and soon quickens its pace back to breakneck bass lines and overdriven guitars with “To Hell With Good Intentions”.
While the Jesus Lizard’s ’90s noise leaves its distorted fingerprints all over this release and such contemporaries as New York post-punks the Liars muster similar energetic brashness, the landmark edgy punks of the Pixies offer a familiar reference point on Mclusky Do Dallas. “Alan is a Cowboy Killer” protrudes with incredibly Pixie-like drumbeats, shrill guitar tones and obtuse vocal melodies that prove this track could have landed a coveted spot on Surfer Rosa had it been penned by the noise-pop pioneers 15 years earlier.
Whether it’s insanity-inducing noise-rock, adrenaline pumping psycho-babble, bass mauling low end exercises or speed-riddled post-punk anthems, Mclusky take an axe to normal rock boundaries and hack splinters of skin grafting cathartic rock that uses sarcastic angst as an avenue of expression rather than a marketing tool. Balancing their serrated edge of ferocity with enough carelessness to keep it spontaneous and fun, Mclusky’s music more than speaks for itself; it redeems its native country for the contrived emotion and lite-rock that exceeds its quota.
Mclusky Do Dallas is a messy musical casserole of overweight guitar riffs, meaty bass and boiling vocals. Oh, and that’s a good thing.