The Residents The Bunny Boy

After 20 odd years of almost strictly conceptual albums, the Residents take a page out of classics like Duck Stab and Fingerprince to conjure up a grab bag of individual and unconnected ditties, with mixed results. The Bunny Boy kicks into gear early on with the punchy "Boxes of Armageddon,” which combines nursery rhyme-style lyrics, twisted electronics and Snakefinger-esque guitar work to make one of the strongest Residents songs of recent years. However, not many of the 18 remaining tracks are able to match the exceptional leadoff number (or the aforementioned classics, for that matter), but they provide nice snapshots of the Residents’ universe of surreal tales, oddball characters and deepening cynicism. As with recent releases, the band are starting to break away from their complete reliance on midi-generated sounds, throwing in live drums, manipulated samples and buzz saw-sounding guitars, but they’re not enough, especially given how dated those midi-sounds tend to be. They really should break out of their insular, cocooned world more often. The Bunny Boy is a decent starting point for the curious types who may not want to be bogged down by lengthy storylines but it lacks the innovative elements that made so many of their earlier albums outsider classics. (Mute/SDR)