When McLusky burst out of Wales into the world of British indie rock in 2000, it was obvious that the band’s goal was to be the snottiest, most obnoxious band in the bunch. Their debut album, titled My Pain and Sadness is More Sad and Painful Than Yours spoke for itself – Pixies-ish noise rock, lots of shouting and some of the more ridiculous song (and album) titles to come out of the Isles this side of The Soft Boys.
But when the trio released McLusky Do Dallas, they proved that they were not only punk rock pranksters, but fantastic songwriters as well. The key to the band’s success was keeping it brief, but memorable. “Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues” and “Collagen Rock” were snotty anthems, full of piss ‘n’ vinegar, but catchy little ditties to boot. Yet, their record reviews showed that the Pixies comparisons hadn’t yet been shaken off. If anything, they sounded more like the legendary Bostonians than they had before.
With the release of The Difference Between You and Me is That I’m Not on Fire, however, the band sounds as if they’re getting further away from Frank Black and delving further into darker territory. The song titles still indicate hints of the infamous wit (“Without MSG I Am Nothing,” “kkkitchens, what were you thinking?”. But their melodies and song structure display how advanced and artsy they’ve become.
“MSG” still retains some of the Pixies influence that McLusky is known for, along with some shades of early Brit post-punk. When singer Andy Falkous sings “everywhere I look/there’s a darkness” repeatedly, one can’t help but be reminded of Mark E. Smith. It seems fitting, as both vocalists have a penchant for talking trash (Falkous could easily be singing about The Darkness). His repetitive, manic delivery on songs like first single “That Man Will Not Hang” and the furiously paced “kkkitchens” fit the Fall frontman to a T. But this isn’t to imply that McLusky has gone from being the new Pixies to the new Fall. Rather, the group is becoming increasingly multifaceted, throwing in new suprises and unexpected sources of inspiration.
“Icarus Smicarus” and “1956 and All That” are noisy Jesus Lizard-like skronkers, and “You Should Be Ashamed Seamus” has a bass sound that could easily place in the competition for loudest low-end in rock. “Slay!” brings new meaning to soft/loud dynamics, as the group goes from whisper quiet to inaudible to deafeningly thunderous. But the intensity gives way to lighter moments, like the catchy, lighthearted “She Will Only Bring You Happiness” and the silly, trumpet adorned “Forget About Him, I’m Mint.”
It may take Do Dallas fans some time to get used to the new McLusky record, but after a few listens, they’ll be convinced. Music this compelling isn’t easily ignored.
Girls Against Boys – Cruise Yourself
Jesus Lizard – Goat
The Pixies – Surfer Rosa
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.