Monday, June 4, 2007

Veruca Salt - Eight Arms To Hold You

Year: 1997
Genre: Power Pop

Highlight Tracks: "One Last Time", "Benjamin", "Sound of the Bell"
Weak Tracks: "Awesome", "Shutterbug"

I have always felt that Veruca Salt were one of the 'sell-out argument' casualties of the early 90's (along with Jawbox). They were accused of just going indie to get cred after rapidly selling to a major label. As if these bands were part of some grand conspiracy with the major labels; where a major secretly agrees to sign a band but they both decide it would be a wise move to gather the indie scene's support by surreptitiously 'going indie' for a few months to a few years before announcing the deal officially. As if any of these hard-working bands are that devious. Give me a break. I am so glad that the world of music has moved beyond those inane, small-minded days (well it hasn't really, but at least that particular argument has become moot).

On Veruca Salt's first album they sounded a lot like an American version of Elastica and that was a very good thing. On this, their follow-up, they sound like a cross between Elastica and Courtney Love's hard-rocking Hole which (bad pun aside) is a pretty good thing too. The production here is straight-out of the mainstream grunge days, big loud arena guitars and a knee-slapping rhythm section. Sometimes the big-sound production detracts from the album's quieter moments. Such as on "Benjamin" which is a beautiful song but would be even better if it had been produced with a little instrumental subtlety.

On the other hand the production style makes sense since the majority of the album is totally rocking summer music. This is one for blaring from the boombox at the beach. It's an album that gets toes tapping and heads nodding. Which makes it a perfect little bit of pop music.

There aren't a lot of surprises on Eight Arms To Hold You but I don't know that I want any. The hit single "Volcano Girls" is essentially a sequel to their original single, "Seether" and while it rocks out it pretty much transmits to the listener that the band are staying within comfortable territory. Which lets us sit back to enjoy the ride for the rest of the album. Louise Post and Nina Gordon both deliver a great range of vocals swinging between near RRRiot Grrl intensity and beautiful siren song; a range that's displayed nicely on "One Last Time". My favorite song on the album is probably "Sound of the Bell" which features a weirdly haunting keyboard element that adds a new dimension to the band's sexy rock chick sound. Finally, "Earthcrosser" is an epic rock track regardless of the creators' gender. They slow it down on "Earthcrosser" and enter PJ Harvey territory with a little twanged-up guitar before the song gloriously swells up into the stratosphere.

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