Elastica The Menace

Elastica are back and it only took the band five years to release their "tough" second album. The Menace is an ironically suitable title for an album that not only made one half of the songwriting team abandon ship, but also took so bloody long. Back in 1995, Elastica had it all. They were adored by boys and girls because of their sexy, androgynous looks and sexually connotative lyrics ("Stutter" was about impotence, y'know). Success came from all over the world and they were frontrunners in the glamorous world of "Britpop." Since then, Donna Matthews has left, bassist Annie Holland left and came back, and the band has recruited a keyboardist and replaced Matthews on guitar. Unfortunately for some, The Menace is not much like Elastica. Instead it sounds like what Elastica should have sounded like early on in their career. The influences of new wave-ish, lo-fi art-rockers like Wire and the Fall are all over this album. In fact, the Fall's legendary drunkard Mark E. Smith makes an appearance on "How He Wrote Elastica Man." The production is sloppy and brazen and sounds like it was recorded in six weeks (which most of it actually was). However, this rough, punky sound does not hurt the band. Songs like "Generator" and "Your Arse My Place" are raw and full of adrenaline. Elastica even turn to electronics to mess things up, creating beautifully honest songs about Justine Frischmann's past loves on "Nothing Stays The Same" and "My Sex." And if that's not enough, MTV can definitely exploit the cheeky pop of "Mad Dog" or the kitsch of "Da Da Da." (Atlantic)