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Join me or Die! by Stuffy and The Fuses

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Reviewed on 10th February 2004.


Join me or Die!

By Stuffy and The Fuses

Stuffy and the Fuses crash in like a lump of hard coal through the window. There's a scary noise, some local damage, and a cold wind rushes in behind. Somewhere Granddad utters an ancient curse and the plumbing coughs into life.

Like everything else touched by the Curse of Wrath, "Join Me or Die" is a CD of relentless integrity and ear-chewing authenticity. You just could not mistake this for any other band or any other label.

What's good about it? Just to get your appetite whetted there are TWO real ice cream vans on the sleeve with real sign writers' work taking the word out to the kids on the cul de sac. "Stuffy/The Fuses" it chimes. Don't ask for a flake, just "Join me or die!"

What you then get are 12 lashings of liquorice, lemon and dementia flavoured song. Big squirts of drum, bass, guitar and subtle noise decorate and entertain. There's a fair amount of dark bile in with the sweetness too, so don't expect even "Angelina Jolie" to be a pretty tune to close the album. Especially not that one. It isn't. It scared me to death first time through. It's a genuinely chilling death race of bass guitar, computer mangled horror-voices and some ringing ear-scouring equipment that will echo in your head for hours.

The range and quality of the songs on "Join me or Die" remind me of the great English tradition of Syd Barrett, Robyn Hitchcock and XTC. Stuffy/the Fuses have that uncompromising musical invention coupled with a willingness to take a sharp personal view to the edge of reality. "2nd Best" is a bitter-sweet cocktail of painful rejection and bemused resignation. You can listen to it is a semi-spoken, soft voiced ballad with descending "Midnight Cowboy" acoustic guitar chords if you want. But lean closer and pay attention, and it's a bizarre menagerie of musical weirdoes hitting and scraping things that haven't been invented yet. It's followed immediately by an Eddie and The Hot Rods garage attack that immediately mutates into something snotty with spiked hair such is " Veruca Salt".

"Billybob Thornton" shows that loud guitar can still be fresh and exciting. "Waltz" shows that personal loathing can be well dressed and dancing, with Caroline Fuse being airily divine as Stuffy loses it in a big way. The ice cream van chimes make an appearance too, like a bad joke at a funeral. It's sublime stuff that ends in industrial strength guitar stomping - in three four, obviously. "Red Brown" starts a great Bo Diddley morph with indie intrusions and post rock spoilers. "In the River" is bleak and wonderful, suffering only from a clunky final chorus that is not quite as unobtrusively written as all the other material.

But if there are any doubts, they come with the package. It won't be everybody's 99, but it is mine. It's precisely the sort of music that good radio stations ought be playing from midnight to midnight. One big thing in its favour is that no particular genre can claim Stuffy for their own. Many will recognise their own beloved ingredients, but all will be shocked and delighted at what else has been mixed in. If Stuffy came from Detroit, Akron or Austin, you would already have this CD and Steve Albini would be queuing up to produce his next.



All replies to this article. Log in to post a reply.

On 12th February 2004 at 09:21 Anonymous 48 wrote...

Hi folks,

Stuffy's album will be in the shops from 24/3/04 and available online from www.wrathrecords.co.uk in the next few days




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