Sunday, July 4, 2010

Salt: Auscultate (1996)

(As published in B-Side ... )

Auscultate (Island)

Fresh from Stockholm but apparently not fans of Abba, this two-man, one-woman trio bashes out two-chord anthems in minor keys and at full volume, sounding at their dullest like P.J. Harvey backed by Candlebox and at their sharpest like P.J. Harvey backed by Nirvana. Actually, they're at their best on “So,” in which they let up a little and allow for both a prominent acoustic guitar and a pretty chorus. They're at their second best on “Bluster,” which starts out like just another two-chord, minor-key excursion and ends up incorporating an impressively medieval, Led Zeppelin-like bridge. It doesn't actually lead anywhere, but its incongruity makes it the perfect analogue for the lyrics, which also don't lead anywhere because they were written by the lead-singing Nina Ramsby, for whom English is a second language. Sometimes her jumbled syntax results in happy accidents ("Don't want to / Don't want to / Be inert / Inert"). Her foreigner's articulation, however, is another matter. I mean, does anyone have the heart to tell her that eagerness--as in "Got to keep my eagerness inside me"--is not pronounced anus?

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