The fifth album from the stubbornly ramshackle Margot & the Nuclear So and So's bears little resemblance to the band's earliest work. Instead of askew orchestral-pop, Rot Gut, Domestic
bounces among three distinct styles: gnarled grunge-rock, noisy lo-fi jags, and delicate introspection. The album's most resonant moments are also its most abrasive. Despondent minor-chord riffs and melody lurch through "Disease Tobacco Free," "Books About Trains" features a ripping guitar solo, "Shannon" is a scuzzy, distorted-blues creeper about a boozy loser, and in the Pixies-fed "Fisher of Men" a restless malcontent sings the recurring recurring refrain "I hate my friends." Hints of Pavement and Nirvana also crop up in the album's dust-cloud guitars and frontman Richard Edwards's delivery — he even conjures Kurt Cobain's strained mewl, most notably as he boasts, "I ain't afraid of the devil" on "The Devil." Next to this hefty clamor, Rot Gut, Domestic
's prettier, stripped-down fare feels out of place if no less unsettling. The ballad "A Journalist Falls in Love" details a doomed relationship with a death-row prisoner, whereas the downtrodden, piano-and-bells-driven "Christ" laments, "Jesus breaks your heart/Every night he doesn't come." Rot Gut, Domestic
never sugarcoats its uglier tendencies, and yet the uncompromising — and uncomfortable — nature of the music is oddly compelling.