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This Busy Monster | Fireworks (Barsuk Records)
Lots of kids these days are doing a sort of backwoods neo-psychedelia that's probably as much urban psychosis as it is psilocybin: some, like New York's own Family of God, create mind-altering soundscapes that manage to combine languid, pastoral elegies with surreal, technophobic screeds; others, like This Busy Monster, who have taken a leap of faith (if that's quite the right word) right off their hypothetical back porch straight into the swamp. And what a dark, smelly and utterly delightful place it is. On Fireworks, This Busy Monster writhe and strut and boogie and squirm and parade through the murky, primordial ooze of angst and entropy with great style and what amounts to heaps of courage. I say style because the band manages to wriggle its way between jagged, overheated rock numbers, crazed and fractured novelty tunes and supremely graceful, almost folkie lullabies with nary a misstep. And courage because while This Busy Monster must know almost no one is ever going to like their gumbo of tortured loves songs and introspective odes to death, murder and advanced social anomie - even sweetened as they are with fantastically weird and ragged arrangements for horns, saws, strings and such, They Might Be Giants-esque wordplay, and a casual, cast-off lyricism - still they persist. And mostly, it's worth it. There's a song or two that doesn't seem quite up to snuff, and the sequencing is problematic. But at best, like Elf Power's most last two
releases or even Bee Thousand-era Guided By Voices, Fireworks charms even as it subverts. You may feel a bit soiled by lines like "You¹ll have to forgive me for many things/I smoke because I can¹t stand the smell of blood."  But you'll probably like it, too.

LD Beghtol
June-July 2001