Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Wire: 14 September 2002, Metro, Chicago [Pinkflag, 2010]
"The best rock show I've seen in years," I crowed to my diary about their visit to the Bowery Ballroom on 6/27/03, when they were still flogging the same '02-'03 Read and Burn/Send material they detonate here. The cruder, broader, louder live versions are executed in precisely the same arrangements as the studio originals, and after the seven-minute buildup of "99.9," every song they choose to play rocks. Avant-garde dabblers who counted punk among their disciplines, they made their decision to define the concept of unrelenting and moved on. Just this year, at the Bowery 4/6/11, their formalism was equally uncompromising. But it treated rock as the one option among many it is. I was disappointed. A-