Veruca Salt

American Thighs
Eight Arms To Hold You

American Thighs (Geffen ’94) Rating: B+
With big grungy guitars and girlish vocals, the obvious Breeders comparisons came unmercifully fast and furious. However, Veruca Salt rocks much harder than the Breeders, while their songs are longer, more fully fleshed out, and less abstract. Most of this derivative but well crafted debut (named after an AC/DC lyric) features appealing mid-tempo songs on which the band builds to surging choruses, as seen to best effect on “Get Back,” “All Hail Me,” “Seether” (a minor hit), “Forsythia,” and “Victrola.” The band’s booming sound can occasionally get mired in sludge, but they also show off an effectively understated side on “Fly,” while the harmonies of Nina Gordon and Louise Post are never less than pleasant ear candy. That is until the disturbing images sink in, as most of American Thighs details submissive, frightened feelings of helpless desperation, the result of being a female living in a male dominated world. At least that how these ladies see it, and violently abusive scenes abound that are as explosive as their thick guitar onslaught, which also has subtler, more Breeders-like moments. It’ll be interesting to see if the band will remain content to plunder this effective but limited terrain, or if they will try to forge their own, less comparison-worthy identity on album number two.

Eight Arms To Hold You (Geffen ’97) Rating: A-
A heavier, richer album overall, Eight Arms To Hold You was everything I had hoped Veruca Salt would deliver on album number two, making all those silly Breeders comparisons superfluous. After all, this is a more consistently entertaining album than anything Ms. Deal’s band has ever put out, and its guitar sound owes as much to the crushing likes of L7 or The Smashing Pumpkins, anyway. Not only is the album heavier than their debut, but it’s also catchier, with air guitar worthy hooks again intertwining with Post and Gordon’s girlish vocals. Despite lyrics depicting dysfunctional relationships, the album’s tone isn’t as consistently angst-filled, either, which is fitting considering the hook filled music. The girls bring forth three lighter inducing ballads (“One Last Time,” “Benjamin,” “Loneliness Is Worse”) that are clearly straight from the heart, but it’s on rockers such as “Volcano Girls,” “Awesome,” “The Morning Sad,” “Sound of the Bells,” and “Venus Man Trap” that the band really shines brightest. And though Veruca Salt will never be the most original band around, for the second time in a row they’ve delivered a consistently entertaining album that’s more than initially meets the eye. It’s too bad that it lacked a hit single a la “Seether” to propel it further commercially, as this album has never achieved the recognition it deserves. Note: Unfortunately, Gordon and Post split unamicably after this album (man problems, apparently). Post continued with the Veruca Salt name and released Resolver in 2000. Gordon released her first solo album Tonight & The Rest Of My Life that same year.

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