DRIVE LIKE JEHU - DRIVE LIKE JEHU Vinyl LP
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Pitchfork was a fine enough band, but whatever happened between those days and the launch of Drive Like Jehu made the newer group a quantum leap forward, as this gripping album demonstrates. Starting with the deceptively calm then ripping "Caress," Drive Like Jehu lives up to the Biblical reference of the group's name by feeling like a heaven-sent storm taking everything along with it at 200 mph. The Rick Froberg/John Reis guitar team sound like they've been dipped in battery acid, wired to a power station, and let absolutely loose, screaming, nervous riffs piled on top of each other and taking off for Mars. Froberg's own wild scream singing suits it perfectly, sounding like something's about to give and leave nothing in its wake. The concluding chorus to "Spikes to You" is a call-and-response from hell, his strangled wail sounding like a last desperate cry for help, while "Good Luck In Jail" sounds even more like something from beyond a violent, horrifying wall of sound. Reis helps out himself every so often, with equally fierce results -- "Step on Chameleon" practically burns with threat both vocally and musically, Froberg's additional interjections on the chorus even more unsettling while the weirdly beautiful mid-song break takes things to an even higher level. Meanwhile, the Mike Kennedy/Mark Trombino rhythm section know when to cut out and when to go full out, throwing in a bunch of tempo shifts and changes per song without sounding like wanky prog rock wannabes. Everything is done in the service of intensity and emotion, winding everything up to explode and then explode again, as with the heart-in-throat shuddering start to "If It Kills You." Even the group's quietest moments loom with threat, sometimes just needing Kennedy's bass or a soft hum of feedback, as on the start of "O Pencil Sharp," to make the point. ~ Ned Raggett