Elastica (Geffen ‘95) Rating: A
The year 1995 saw a lot of hype about a new British invasion, with bands such as The Stone Roses, Oasis, and Blur seeking to win over U.S. audiences after conquering the U.K. With comparatively little fanfare, this tough, primarily female (except for their excellent drummer) quartet came out with this stunning debut album and just about kicked all their asses. Elastica features sixteen songs and is over in a mere 40 minutes. Nearly every song (exceptions: “Hold Me Now,” “Indian Song,” “See That Animal”) is a gem that features a hard-hitting new wave sound, along with a no bullshit bravado and energy that’s pure punk. Slinky, rumbling rhythms are matched to catchy, angular guitar riffs and great lyrics, as Justine Frischman’s sexy voice alternately coos and rages her sex crazed thoughts about car fetishes (“Car Song”), the difficulty of waking up every day (“Waking Up”), impotent lovers (the awesome “Stutter”), and bright beginnings quickly turning sour (“Never Here”). And though they’ve been criticized in some circles for borrowing riffs from punk forbears such as Wire and The Stranglers, they merely use these riffs as starting points that they then expand (and in my opinion improve) upon. Besides, even if you feel compelled take points off for a lack of originality, you’d still be hard pressed to deny that Elastica was an expertly produced album of knockout songs. Other high points include the grungy “S.O.F.T,” the briskly paced but poppy “Blue”, the soon to be on the popular Trainspotting soundtrack “2:1,” and the super catchy “Connection,” which briefly landed the band on the U.S. charts.

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