Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Reducers

  • The Reducers [Rave On, 1984] B+
  • Let's Go! [Rave On, 1984] A-
  • Cruise to Nowhere [Rave On, 1985] B+
  • Shinola [Rave On, 1995] Neither

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Reducers [Rave On, 1984]
A glorified demo, so the sound could be crisper, but Tom Trombley compensates by sending out a flat, tough beat as pure if not as magical as Charlie Watts himself. And the material is there: "Out of Step" and (in a less theoretical vein) "Black Plastic Shoes" might qualify as theme songs for a band given to voicing the discontents of fairly ordinary nonmetropolitan under-twenty-fives who don't want to buy into the system if they can help it. B+

Let's Go! [Rave On, 1984]
Suspiciously generic though they may seem, nobody can name the genre--the attack of speed boys like the Vibrators yoked to a Stonesish but very American "honky imitation of the blues." You know, rock and roll like you dream about it. Their cross-class sniping isn't as sharp as their what-the-fuck-are-we-doing-in-New-London? because no matter how you strip them down and speed them up, blues and country sources still put a premium on personal expressiveness. Thus the Reducers' satire is straightforward rather than deadpan, their anger their own. For cartoony affectlessness they substitute contained, rapid-fire soul; for chordal roar, licks and even quick, clipped, vaguely Claptonesque solos; for ur-pop hooks, a honky imitation of the blues. A-

Cruise to Nowhere [Rave On, 1985]
Less bracing than the nonstop Let's Go!, with only a few tunes--the miniature ("Fistfight at the Beach") even more than the metaphor ("Cruise to Nowhere") or the final statement ("Sound of Breaking Down")--that bite hard enough to break the skin. But on "Pub Rockin'" they cop to their roots' roots, and you have to be amazed at how good punk was for these guys. They're devoid of Ameriphilia--of Dr. Feelgood's raunchy role-playing or Ducks Deluxe's mud-bottom romanticism. And if they don't write with the panache of Nick Lowe, they sure get to the point faster than Sean Tyla. B+

Shinola [Rave On, 1995] Neither