Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mclusky/Mcluskyism/Mcluskyism (Expanded Edition)/8.4/6.1

Mclusky could be best be classified as "asshole indie rock"-- direct, obnoxious, and unapologetic.

There's a great British slang term that doesn't quite translate on this side of the Atlantic - taking the piss. It means, as best as I can figure, to make fun of someone but to do it underhandedly so that they can't quite figure if what you're saying is serious or not. There probably isn't a stateside equivalent because Americans are too frank and obvious; we have to be told that something's a joke in advance so we know to laugh. However, Mclusky mastered the art of taking the piss out of their listeners. Does that make them assholes? Only if you're the guy who doesn't get the joke. If McLusky were assholes, then they were assholes that you kept inviting back to your parties - they'd make you laugh to yourself even as you cleaned up their assorted spills from the night before.

I'm really baffled to think that Mclusky needs a greatest hits CD. Mclusky only had three full length albums and a small handful of singles. If you count through their tracks on their discography - that's 57 unique songs. Mcluskyism has 12 of those songs on the regular CD - over 20% of their body of work. Only two of the tracks on the main disk are solely from singles - There Ain't No Fool In Ferguson and Undress For Success. Two are from their debut, four are from Mclusky Does Dallas and four are from their last record. So, if you have their last two records, you already have most of this compilation. You could buy the expanded version (for four bucks more on this side of the pond) and round out your Mclusky collection nicely. Or you could buy an LP or a couple of singles to tie things up. The basic compilation is not an essential collection.

An 8.4 rating (.1 shy of a Best New Music rating) is overly generous - unless it's a rating of Mclusky's overall body of work, not this compilation. If you don't have anything by Mclusky, I'd recommend starting with Mclusky Does Dallas. It's their strongest record and too many of its gems are left off of Mcluskyism. Also, the hidden track at the end of Whoyouknow is completely gone from Mcluskyism. The same would go for The Difference Between Me And You Is That I'm Not On Fire - all of the tracks on the compilation are decent choices, but you miss Lucky Jim, Kkkitchens..., and Icaraus Smicarus at the least. I'm working hard to suppress the completist in me, but these are the two records I'd recommend to a new fan before buying Mcluskyism. If you're a diehard fan, the bonus discs should be worth the scratch - and then you can give away the main disk to teenagers to blow their minds.

Since the main record doesn't deliver much that hasn't been released on a full length, I suspect that Mcluskyism is a final attempt by Too Pure to get the band in front of potential fans. If you've been trying to follow the stream of Brit bands lobbed across the Atlantic like so many Wimbledon volleys, you'll notice that many of them come with a remarkably short shelf life - the Test Icicles being the prime example. These bands reach a tipping point of popularity amongst the indie digerati then topple over, forgotten as another group is lobbed across the pond. Mclusky played and drank hard enough that they deserve a fixed place in the annals of Rock. I'm disappointed to think that the only way to get indie fans' attention (or jog their memory) is to bonk them over the head with this compilation.

For those of us on the western side of the Atlantic, Mcluskyism doesn't come out until March 21st - the UK release date was Feb. 27th. I know, I know - Pitchfork and the Interweb are international. However, PFM's advertisers seem to sit pretty squarely in the US of A, which tells me enough about their real target audience. And for those of you who wonder if we get frequent flyer miles every time we harp on release dates vs. publication dates, we do. Just four more reviews and I'll have enough miles to visit my friend in London. Thanks, Pitchforkmedia!

In the end, I liked Mclusky and was sad to see them break up. If I had to pick a title for a Mclusky compilation, I would use a track that was left off of Mcluskyism - The World Loves Us And Is Our Bitch. That'd take the piss out of folks who didn't catch their records the first time around.