Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Underworld

  • Second Toughest in the Infants [Wax Trax, 1996] C+
  • Beaucoup Fish [JBO/V2, 1999] Dud

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Second Toughest in the Infants [Wax Trax, 1996]
Americans enticed by talk of "rock"-dance fusion should bear in mind the cultural deprivation of our siblings across the sea. Befuddled by the useless "rock"-"pop" distinction, they believe "rock" is something that happened in the '70s. The more inquisitive among them are aware of Pearl Jam and Nirvana, but if they've ever heard of Los Lobos or Husker Du they probably think they're "pop." So check out these comparisons from admirers of this inflated trio, spawned by the famously bad new-romantic band Freur and an "art collective" others might call an advertising agency: "pre-stadium Simple Minds," "way beyond the length of a Frank Zappa guitar solo," "J.J. Cale on an ecstasy comedown," "a warm bath." Plus their proper predecessors Pink Floyd "with bigger bass sounds and better drum patterns." Here and there--eight minutes into "Kiteless," for instance--they do work up a dangerously off-kilter groove. But the lyrics of Animals were more than "insane ramblings" or "the colours of cars going past a friend's house." And Ummagumma had more purity of purpose. C+

Beaucoup Fish [JBO/V2, 1999] Dud