Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Wussy: Wussy [Shake It, 2009]
From their records I know this great couple band nobody's heard of to be mordant, obsessive, desperate. But having caught them live in Manhattan last year, I also know them to be urgent, funny, companionable. To be clear, they're a two-male, two-female quartet, but only grizzled fat Chuck Cleaver and lissome tattooed Lisa Walker are a couple. What's worrisome is that if I'm to take their latest songs autobiographically, which is hard to resist after that show, I should say they're a couple-I-hope, not just because I want them to keep making records but because I liked them together--and because this is as brutal a relationship album as Richard & Linda Thompson's Shoot Out the Lights. It starts with a miserable reunion, gets bleaker, sets the tone for its upful moments with the lively "Happiness Bleeds," and keeps on bleeding till a spare, funereal closer with the ominous title "Las Vegas." But there's also good news. With Walker's soprano simultaneously reasonable and fraught, Cleaver's rough tenor spooked by Appalachian Cincinnati, their country-drone guitars and locked-in rhythm section never give up, not even on the slow ones. There's hurt there always. But no discernible hate. A