Under Review: Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s – Buzzard

A few songs into Buzzard, the new album from Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s, something seems very, very wrong.  Sure, the musical dynamics are there; opener “Birds” skips between a groovy minimalist verse and a distorted chorus.  It’s clearly Richard Edwards at the mic, and his loopy songwriting is pretty recognizable, but there’s a nagging void that’s hard to put into words.  At first, that is.  Between 2008 and now, Edwards and company left the major label that forced them to release their second album in two separate forms, and, oh yeah, the entire band was fired.  The new version of the So And So’s doesn’t feature any string or horn players, making Buzzard a sonically solid album.  It also makes it a dull, uninteresting listen.  Whatever quirks the major label failed to clip away when releasing Not Animal have since been completely shorn by Edwards himself.  Edwards’ lyrics, previously laced with cute turns-of-phrase, have taken as big a hit as his band’s lineup, with breakup songs like “Claws Off” and strange love songs like “Lunatic, Lunatic, Lunatic” sounding tepid.

The few oddball moments come off as forced in the band’s new, less playful persona.  “Your Lower Back” begins with a found recording extolling the virtues of sex, and the piano-led “Tiny Vampire Robot” desperately tries to recapture the jazzy haze of the group’s early releases.  Even in its previous form, the band had a knack for somber melodies and atmospheres, but they were never so joyless as they are on Buzzard.  The root of the new album’s problems is Edwards’ complete control over the group’s creative direction.  It’s certainly understandable that Edwards wanted to take his songs in a different direction.  However, retaining the Margot name serves as little more than a ploy to get listeners interested in what is essentially a Richard Edwards solo album.  In my opinion, the closest cousin to this album is The Velvet Underground’s Squeeze, and no artist wants his album compared to that.


~ by E. on September 29, 2010.

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