Sound — 9
Shudder to Think are a post-hardcore band who emerged from the DC hardcore scene in the mid-1980s and where one of the two bands (other being Jawbox) to famously leave Dischord Records for a major label. Although taking their influence from hardcore punk and alternative rock their music has a pop twist which is quite evident on their major label debut "Pony Express Record". Despite having a clean poppy sound the album is not what could be described as "easy listening". The songs on the album jump around abruptly which on your first listen and subsequent listens in some cases can take you by total surprise as the song goes in a total different direction than where it was originally going thanks to the number of different time signatures used notable in track 5 "Earthquakes come Home". Another thing to mention although being well produced and a tight sounding record there is a lot of use of dissonance/dissonant chords in the songs and twisted melodies which is what I like about the record. It approaches the pop sound from a total different direction which sounds abrasive to the ear but doesn't put you off. I would give this record a 9 for sound as the first eight tracks from the thirteen track album are solid, amazing tracks whereas towards the end I thought there was a slight drop in quality.
Lyrics — 10
One of the first things than struck me about this record was the lyrics and the singers vocal ability along with the dissonance. Craig Wedren the bands guitarist/vocalist is a phenomenal singer. I would compare him to the style of Jeff Buckley who in fact did some work with the band. A description can't do his voice justify you really need to hear it for yourself. For this I would recommend the tracks "Kissi Penny" where he sings like Jeff Buckley and other track "Sweet Year Old" where his vocal style differs slightly still Buckley-esque you can feel the anger/annoyance he is feeling in some points especially where he starts almost shouting "Will she ever live". He has a great voice. The lyrics are quite intriguing, thought provoking, clever and funny in different places. From the slightly morbid lyrics in the opening track "Hit Liquor" - "Case of her bones are softer than loose meat" to the funny/weird lyrics in "Gang of $" - "One honey donut and your lips are stuck to the seat" and his later wailing of "the ghost of my mom is in the telephone" which lead you wonder what the lyrics are hinting at. The topics and lyrics vary greatly throughout the record my personal favourites being from "X-French T-shirt" - "I saw you screaming at the top floor, big window crash, I'm deaf" and "Kissi Penny's" - "Who's in distress? Some damsel with a canceled subscription to an ambulance". Overall the lyrics and vocals are fantastic.
Overall Impression — 10
I would say that Shudder to Think sound like a more abrasive Jeff Buckley but apart from that there aren't really many other bands out there like them. Maybe Jawbox or Fugazi to an extent but they lack the poppy/clean sound that Shudder to Think provide. The most impressive songs would have to be "Hit Liquor", "Gang of $", the single from the album "9 Fingers on You", "Sweet Year Old", "Earthquakes Come Home", "Kissi Penny", "X-French T-Shirt", "No RM. 9, Kentucky" and finally "So Into You". This album is a near perfect record apart from the few poorer tracks at the end. I would go as far to say this is one of the best albums of the 90s. People say OK Computer by Radiohead is a perfect album though I think the second half sucks. This album I would say though being a different sort of music would surpass it as one of the best albums of the 90s. I would put it up there with Pearl Jam's "Ten", Soundgarden's "Superunknown" and many other albums. I would urge people to go out and buy this exceptional album you will not regret it and yes if this was stolen I would immediately purchase a new one!