Plumbiferous Media

Buzzard - Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s

Sep 23rd 2010
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Buzzard - Margot and the Nuclear So and So'sMargot and the Nuclear So and So's
Score: 72

Indi­anapo­lis folk-rock band Mar­got and the Nuclear So and So’s (yes, with the apos­tro­phe), formed in 2005 and front­ed by Richard Edwards, released their fourth LP, Buz­zard, on the 21st. Buz­zard uses a deep­er sound than some of the band’s ear­li­er work, in a way that is both detri­men­tal and com­pli­men­ta­ry to the So and So’s’s sound. What­ev­er the direc­tion, with Buz­zard it cre­ates a fun­da­men­tal­ly inter­est­ing album.

Edwards pro­vides the major­i­ty of Buz­zard’s vocals, though he’s joined (and backed) by band­mate Tyler Watkins. Edwards dis­plays a sol­id range over the length of Buz­zard, from the high tones of “Birds” to his more stan­dard, alter­nate­ly del­i­cate and force­ful alt-rock vocals. The var­i­ous gra­da­tions of Edwards’ voice gen­er­al­ly work quite well, as he’s good at choos­ing the right tone for what­ev­er music he might be per­form­ing. At the same time, how­ev­er, when he’s clos­er to the alt-rock side of the spec­trum, Edwards occa­sion­al­ly slips into a sta­t­ic sound, which con­tributes to occa­sion­al over-long unchang­ing sec­tions. Hap­pi­ly, this is fair­ly rare; Edwards gen­er­al­ly graces Buz­zard with inter­est­ing sound.

There is a fun­da­men­tal­ly inter­est­ing qual­i­ty to Mar­got and the Nuclear So and So’s’s sound. The lines of Buz­zard are cre­ative, blend well, rarely become more than slight­ly repet­i­tive, and gen­er­al­ly pro­vide the album with a very firm start­ing point. That’s where the prob­lems begin. There are a num­ber of tracks that are clear­ly quite well devel­oped from start to fin­ish, but the oth­er tracks, to put it blunt­ly, do not. That bunch of tracks still has that strong start to a good sound, but noth­ing devel­op­ing off of it. There aren’t real­ly any mem­o­rable melodies or har­monies in Buz­zard, just singing on top of instru­men­tal back­ing. That’s also where The So and So’s starts to devolve towards a sim­ple alt-rock sound, some­thing much less unique and inter­est­ing as the sound with which the band began. The most notice­able prob­lem with Buz­zard, then, is that every pro­gres­sive step tak­en with the sound of the album is undone at some lat­er point.

The lyrics of Buz­zard are less com­pre­hen­si­ble than cre­ative, but they gen­er­al­ly man­age to be inter­est­ing, under­stand­able or not. Between lines like “No one knows the names of those birds / So why would you want me to” and the fair­ly amus­ing “You dance like a jerk when­ev­er you dance / Your moth­er can’t stand you / Nobody can,” it’s clear that the So and So’s have put some thought into their writ­ing, though it’s not quite poet­ic. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Buz­zard has some lyri­cal weak­ness­es to go with its strengths. Repeat­ed­ly yelling “Let’s have a baby!” does not make for good lyrics, as amus­ing as it may be.

Buz­zard is a fun­da­men­tal­ly good album. There are numer­ous irri­tat­ing prob­lems, from the band’s ten­den­cy to remain uncom­mit­ted to any devel­op­ments to clear­ly under­de­vel­oped lyrics. But still, Buz­zard would have been enjoy­able even as a pure­ly gener­ic-alt album, and it real­ly is quite a bit more than that. There’s lit­tle emo­tion­al depth, nor is there much diver­si­ty, but that’s not real­ly the point of Buz­zard As a sim­ple, some­what catchy set of songs, it’s an album that should make the So and So’s proud.

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