IT’S NOW 1998 AND THE US UNDERGROUND has gone overground. Pavement have discovered the hit parade, Beck has become a global deity while the likes of Yo La Tengo, Sleater-Kinney and even Royal Trux have collectively decided to stop pissing about and turn in albums that you can play to friends without wincing.
Obviously, all that listenable stuff is guaranteed to alienate the lo-fi community, so praise be for Guv’ner and their third geek-opus that’s just tailor-made for the seven-inch snob in your life. ‘Spectral Worship’ chews on exactly the same pop bubblegum as their previous releases with a nerdy hook here, a quirky instrument there (castanets, Moog, Spanish guitars, etc) but, unlike 1996’s ‘The Hunt’, it chooses to hide its considerable light under a bushel of obscurity.
Examples? The wonky ‘Anaphelact’ that trails off into an unwelcome minute of sub-Creedence noodlings; the sing-song ‘Time Rarely Stands Still’, the ever-quotable Pumpkin Wentzel’s super-cute cooing spoilt by a can’t-be-arsed delivery – they’re all oozing with pop suss but held back by a reluctance to, well, rock.
Possibly they’re just too damn clever, guitarist Charles Ganza stroking his chin as he steers yet another tune off into unnecessary complexity. But when a cover of John Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’ is one of the best things on an album, it’s definitely time for a rethink.
If Guv’ner ever harness the rock that lurks inside ‘Coozwax’ or the Trux-go-goofy ‘Wounded Birds’, then Dame Fortune could yet bless them with her touch. Sadly most people probably won’t bother hanging around that long.