-16- Zoloft Smile

Los Angeles band -16- are certainly not the most prolific, since it’s taken them six long years to produce a full-length follow-up to 1997’s Blaze Of Incompetence — and all three tracks from 2001’s Today is the Day split are also included here. But the mega-solid, ten-song crush-o-rama that is Zoloft Smile will reign supreme as the group’s finest hour. The first two cuts, "Damone” and "Hearing Voices,” erupt in a sweat fest of heart-pounding riffs, concussive drumming, and the perfectly modulated wailings of main throat Cris Jerue. Beginning with Tony Baumeister’s throbbing bass lines (a signature sound in early recordings), the title track hacks and bludgeons like Jason Voorhees turned metal-head. The dynamic rising action of "Balloon Knot” and "Workplace on Fire” only serve to fan the flames of self-loathing and destructive revenge, and the bruise-inducing "Born to Lose” and especially "Grip of Delusion” seethe with Phil Vera’s start/stop, Helmet-like chords. "You’re Not My Real Dad” (a working title of this album around the release of 1998’s Scott Case compilation of out-of-print material) gets nervy around the bridges as the mammoth riffs elbow their way through the tune. More streamlined, less feedback, and with — more so than ever — disturbingly random lyrics, Zoloft Smile is the band’s dénouement of antipathy and undoubtedly one of the year’s best records. (At A Loss)