Chromatics 

Plaster Hounds

Last year, Seattle's Chromatics released Chrome Rats vs. Basement Rutz, a nasty slab of rusted blade beats, clanky guitars, and guy-gal pitch-clashing yelps that made for one of the best neo-No Wave records of the recent, um, wave of such sounds. Like many of their insecure peers in the art school rock underbelly, the Chromatics betray an obsession with staying ahead of the trend on their latest, which of course saps their strengths. Gone are the nervous spasms of Chrome Rats, switched with a gloomier drone, like a lesser Suicide heard through the first shovelful or three of dirt over the coffin lid. "Chalk Dust" and "Garden" offer some startling shocks within the murky mix, but that's about it.

This transformation might have to do with the fact that the band has been cut in half personnel-wise, and rather than wait around for reinforcements, maybe these cats just want to be prolific. An admirable trait, but one that doesn't always allow for fully realized recordings. Here's hoping the Chromatics -- however many of them there are next time -- find a middle ground between the two records.

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