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Tracks on Lizard's Down lack melody, rhythm, and form


The Jesus Lizard.

Touch 'n' Go Records.

By John Jacobs
Staff Reporter

Many indier-than-thous defend the Jesus Lizard just because it's punk rock. Some go so far as to buy the album just to undermine the corporate superstructure - the employees of which, they would have us believe, slither to work on their bellies. Yeah. We should either freeze these people until a cure is found, or ... ah, start our own indie label.

After carefully listening to the new album, Down, it became apparent that the Jesus Lizard has virtually no concept of what rock is supposed to be. Either that, or they simply wanted to produce the ultimate anti-pop album: Music to grind your teeth to, while you pull out your hair. Down is music for masochists.

None of the songs have any melody, and most have a profoundly inflexible rhythm. In fact, in light of Liar, the band's last album, I'm convinced that the Jesus Lizard has a paramecium's concept of rhythm. The guitar chords are never allowed to wash over into the next beat, notes in the licks are similarly confined, and the licks themselves are repeated at perfect intervals. The bassist drums on his bass while the drummer thinks he's being cool by splitting the rhythms. The vocalist is the only band member who might know how to combine rhythms, but he does it so rarely, it seems as if by accident. The overall effect is a nerve-crunching overdose of a single beat.

These characteristics by themselves don't condemn the album, but they bring it to the edge of the trash can. The final push is due to the songs' unresolvable form: There are over three musical themes per song, most of them embodied in screechy, acrid, and technical guitar licks. The lyrics, like the music and cover art, communicate perverse and pointless imagery ("This year's unlikely sex symbol / Is a priest not a man" and "I'm the kitchen sink / You're an oil pan / We are lanced cysts"). Normal people don't want to hear about fellow humans sodomized or someone ovulating in front of a full-length mirror. "I'm going to cut little gill slits in the side of your neck / And blow in them with a straw." Is this the Sick and Twisted soundtrack?

The Jesus Lizard is not a completely worthless band. Check out their influence on Kurt Cobain in "Oh, the Guilt" on the Jesus Lizard/Nirvana single.

In summary, you're really only going to like this album if you can't stand your roommate. I warn you: Down is negative-effort songwriting that may make you sterile, but will definitely cause you stress.