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Maybe there's a message here for musicians determinedly gigging, recording, and self-promoting. Something about breaking up — and releasing nothing for 17+ years — has proven a brilliant gambit for Scottish post-punk/garage brats Frances McKee and Eugene Kelly (Kurt Cobain's Vaselines-love didn't hurt). Indeed, for all the cult-darling hoopla accorded the duo's initial output, some of SWAX's sonic spit wads are hurled as well or better. Knives are unsheathed right out of the digipak, with the casual momentum of “Ruined” demo-ing where the nouveau-garage movement found some of its mojo.

Probably at least partly by way of Lou Reed, casual/momentum is precisely the conflict that makes the V's notable (lyrics skewering domestic abuse and religion might if rock lyrics really mattered). While the initial impression can be “There's no There there,” the set has classic new wave staying power. “The Devil in Me” entwines gleeful fuzz with beautifully hollow guitar. “Poison Pen” shimmers with '60s-via-Frisco garage/psych cool. An invigorating truth serum heightens “I Hate the ’80s,” and a candidate for aging-boho anthemdom, “Overweight But Over You.” Kelly's near-monotone joins McKee's airy vocal on the title tune for some lines that are a bit too long for bumper stickers: “Feels so good, it must be bad for me” and “I've done too much of all the stuff that I was warned, ‘Do not touch’.” It's good news for attending physicians and rockers with a taste for subtle debauchery.

  • Album: Sex with an X (2010)
  • Artist: The Vaselines
  • Label: Sub Pop
  • Songs: (1) Ruined (2) Sex With an X (3) The Devil Inside Me (4) Such a Fool (5) Turning It On (6) Overweight But Over You (7) Poison Pen (8) I Hate the '80s (9) Mouth to Mouth (10) Whitechapel (11) My God's Bigger Than Your God (12) Exit the Vaselines
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