‘Tasteless, witless and pointless’*, I took that from the review on Allmusic for Alice Donut’s fourth LP. i have no doubt whatsoever the band would have put that review on a sticker to advertise their next LP, The Untidy Suicides Of Your Degenerate Children if they could have. Whilst I find Allmusic to be, mostly, utter bollocks** they really do have a point with Alice Donut – but that is the point of Alice Donut.
It’s pretty self-evident that this here band are a bunch of clever, cynical, twisted fucks potentially with ruinous chemical habits and a damn fine way with words, witness my two fave track titles here:
- The Son Of A Disgruntled X-Postal Worker Reflects on His Life While Getting Stoned in the Parking Lot of a Winn Dixie While Listening to Metallica
- She Loves You, She Wants You, It’s Amazing How Much Head Wounds Bleed
The Untidy Suicides^ is a much more commercial sounding LP than its’ predecessor, the genius-illy titled Revenge Fantasies Of The Impotent; ‘commercial’ being a strictly relative term here. Alice Donut reined back a little of their wooziness and constantly changing tempos, to great effect, mostly; the sound is more dope laced with cleaning products than acid laced with cleaning products this time around.
Thanks to Nirvana kicking the doors down, by 1992 there were some interesting more way out bands getting a bit more press and exposure, as long as they had a bit of rocky punk in their mix somewhere. Alice Donut did. The churning bass heavy opener ‘Magdalene’ being a great case in point, this is as straight as they get – in fact until it gets a bit raggedy around the chorus we could be listening to a female-fronted Alice In Chains, that and all the lines about ‘watching her ass in a frenzy’. I love this, it sounds like that period when you’ve drunk so much on a Saturday night that suddenly everything pitches and rolls in detached hyperreal clarity, despite the fact you’ve just lost control of all your bodily functions, probably until Thursday.
The Untidy Suicides lurches on in a similar vein all through Side A, ‘The Tingler’ (is it about a car wreck? sex? or car wreck sex?) is great, as is the (sounds like the Breeders having a knife fight with Hole) ‘Everybody Is On Sale’, but the plaudits are stolen by the magnificent ‘The Son Of A Disgruntled X-Postal Worker…’, which is a tense, taut, metal-tinged mini epic. I can make out certain words but, I’m not sure I want to delve too deeply, Alice Donut scare me:
Firemen are your friend
Firemen are big men strong men hairy men happy men
Come and touch your grandpas love …
All the playing here is just as good as it has to be, not an ounce more or less. I have to say though that I have a real thing for Sissi Schulmeister’s vocals, mostly bratty, strident and snide, she occasionally harmonizes beautifully to keep us all guessing.
Side B is much less grungey and rocky and actually more interesting as a result. The opening track ‘Annie’s Empty’ has touches of Siouxsie & The Banshees about it, ‘Loteria’ rocks in a tasteful instrumental fashion and the bad trip of ‘Medication’ growls along in a forcefully glazed fashion. ‘Things Have never Looked Better’ is great, it sounds like Zappa would have if he’d grown up somewhere concrete in the 1980’s. You know what? I think the title may be one of them ironic things that clever, cynical, twisted fucks use:
Things have never looked better
But its rotting on the inside
I dont mind
Bodies piling up on the pavement
I see the fire spreading in the street
Bodies piling up on the pavement
I see the city burning down
I don’t mind
It doesn’t matter
Everything is fine
‘She Loves You, She Wants You, It’s Amazing How Much Head Wounds Bleed’, is surprisingly, wonderfully Beatles-esque, maybe even Henry Mancini-esque, thanks to the brass played by Stephen Moses^^.
This was an interesting listen tonight, it was much more coherent and together than I had remembered it being, an easier ride than I was bracing myself for; maybe I’ve just heard odder in the last 24 years. I suspect the real reason I’ve avoided it for years now is that I’m uneasy about the album title – when I inherited the LP my cosy existence had not been touched by suicide at all, it was just an abstract concept, sadly I can’t say that now and I despise any use of the word for effect. But, leaving that and the fact that the band appear to have made unauthorised use of photographs of me during my leisure time on the front cover aside, The Untidy Suicides was a very good listen indeed – rocky, punky, cynical and twisted.
Tasteless, witless and pointless? Nah, more like tasty, witty and, umm, pointy.
*aren’t they the three blind mice of the apocalypse?
**unless you want to hire me Mr Allmusic? in which case I shall embrace you as the one true voice of justice, integrity and taste in an uncertain universe.
^as I’ll call it from here on in to save my typing muscles.
^^who I first stumbled upon playing on Blind Melon Soup.