Mclusky made their debut in 2000 as a delightfully obnoxious band of rabble rousers. Their first album, titled My Pain and Sadness is More Sad and Painful Than Yours spoke for itself, stacked with Pixies-esque noise rock, some of the more ridiculous song (and album) titles to come out of the Isles this side of The Soft Boys, and foul-mouthed shout-along choruses galore.
With the release of 2002’s Mclusky Do Dallas, however, the band proved themselves much more than punk rock pranksters, but fantastic songwriters as well. Employing conciseness and potency in equal measure, Mclusky left a deep impression on their sophomore effort, and they did so without wasting any time. “Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues” and “Collagen Rock” were snotty anthems, full of piss and vinegar, but commanding as genuine rock anthems in their own right.
On The Difference Between You and Me is That I’m Not on Fire, however, Mclusky delve 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 been present in Mclusky’s music since the beginning, along with some shades of early UK post-punk. When singer Andy Falkous sings “everywhere I look/there’s a darkness” repeatedly, it’s hard not to be reminded of the acerbic wit of Mark E. Smith. Falkous’ repetitive, manic delivery on songs like first single “That Man Will Not Hang” and the furiously paced “kkkitchens” likewise carry echoes of that frontman of The Fall. But despite a few familiar points of reference, Mclusky’s grown increasingly versatile, throwing in their share of new surprises 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.” Though the darker shades and textures might take a few more listens to sink in with The Difference Between You and Me Is I’m Not In Fire, but after a few listens its complexities and nuances sink in, and its songs resonate as some of Mclusky’s best. Noise rock of this caliber isn’t easily ignored.
Label: Too Pure/Beggars Banquet
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.