Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-11-18

2011-11-18

Wussy: Funeral Dress II (Shake It, 2011) I'm so skeptical of unplugged Record Store Day thingies it never occurred to me to sample this one when it materialized last April. This means I was an idiot--when you love a record the way I love their debut, you never know when some alternate version might turn into, say, the live Daydream Nation that other couple group assembled. It also means the limited edition is almost sold out by now. What will you miss if you don't buy it--eek!--right this minute? Suffering stripped naked beneath the wit, tune, and transcendent noise you long ago learned to love. Detailed knowledge of how nuanced and expressive Chuck and especially Lisa's voice can be, and how delicately they're capable of interacting. Well-turned lyrics you never before had to concentrate on--and yes, they make sense except when they don't, which why should they always when life doesn't either? Acoustic guitars, brushed drums, occasional accordion. And a finale you never knew was so agonizing. Try to break up to that. I dare you. A

Wussy: Strawberry (Shake It, 2011) The first Wussy album in which louder, heavier tub thumper Joe Klug replaces Mo Tucker fan Dawn Burman is also the first he co-produced. There's more distortion, less naturalism; Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker yowl more, as when Chuck's aging head voice rises to the challenge of Mark Messerly's organ on "Pulverized." These alienation effects help define a rock that generalizes the connubial agony at the band's core, and if this is alienating for those of us who love them as well, it's also comforting, because it distances us from real-life couple Chuck and Lisa's real lives. I'd as soon assume the co-written "Fly Fly Fly" was inspired by a dumb young couple they know. I'm glad "Pizza King"'s tale of permanently adolescent disarray takes place in Indiana, not Ohio. And it's fine with me that "Asteroids" is so spacey--it means the heart "floating in the frozen void" might be metaphorical. A

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