Margot & the Nuclear So & So's | Rot Gut, Domestic

Mariel Recording Company (2012)
By ANNIE ZALESKIE  |  March 21, 2012
3.5 3.5 Stars

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.
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