Saturday, February 6, 2010

Review #59: Hüsker Dü - Metal Circus (1983)


Year: 1983
Genre: Punk Rock
SST Records
18 Minutes (Medium-Length)
My Rating:

Hüsker Dü were a punk rock band from Saint Paul, Minnesota. In 1981, they released their first album, which was a live album, and then they released a studio LP called "Everything Falls Apart". This is their third album, and it marks the transition between the sound of the early records and the more experimental, melodic sound of their later works (like "Zen Arcade"). With that said, while not really an alternative album, it's one of the oldest records to make a shift towards the beginning of that genre.

1. Real World

Really neat buzzsaw-sounding guitar riff. This is an upbeat song that questions the motives and ideals of most punks at the time, asking whether anarchy and breaking laws will cause more harm or help. Aggressive-as-fuck vocals. This one is great!

2. Deadly Skies

A song simultaneously expressing fear of nuclear war and also attacking people who protest against it just to look good. I like the chorus riff.

3. It's Not Funny Anymore

Even more joyful-sounding than the previous two songs -- almost pop-punk! Nice solo.

4. First of the Last Calls

Great riff. It's a song about people who battle alcohol addictions.
End of Side 1.

5. Lifeline

The angriest-sounding song on the album. Sounds like it's either about fighting drug addiction or just being stuck in a rut in life. Not sure.

6. Diane

One of the most well-known tracks on the album, and rightfully so -- it's a slow, beautiful punk-ballad about a woman who was kidnapped by a man who raped her and then murdered her. The chorus is just the word "Diane" repeated. Sounds like not much, but it's way more effective in displaying the sadness in this song than anything else (the background vocals are great, too). The subsequent verses go on to sing about all of the deceptive things the man said to Diane in order to lure her into his car. A very moving song.

7. Out On a Limb

The lyrics almost seem to be alluding to suicide -- singing of going out on a limb and knowing that it will break anyways. Slightly faster than "Diane" but slower than all of the other songs. Later on in the song, there's a huge chaotic noise-solo. The bass is kinda out-there, too. Very crazy.
Unfortunately, it ends there! :-(

While not recognized as Hüsker Dü's best piece (that distinction goes to "Zen Arcade"), this is still a great album in its own right -- Zen Arcade actually came out within months after this was released. But this marks a transitional period; they began embracing the beautiful, experimental ballads, but there's still a lot of angry thrash-type stuff on here as well. Almost seems like the kind of record that early emo could have gotten inspiration from! But I really do like that guitar-sound on this one. You should totally listen to this if you like punk. If you haven't already heard 'em, Hüsker Dü will make you realize how great punk-rock can really be.


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