Let me preface this review by saying I haven’t listened to Margot & The Nuclear So And So's before Rot Gut, Domestic. Normally before reviewing a band I haven’t heard much of I go online and listen to earlier stuff to get a little background. When I went to do this with Margot though I noticed the large discrepancy in opinions about this band. Many love them, many do not. Some love the older music but hate their newer stuff. Others say they weren’t even listenable until their last album Buzzard. So I decided to go into this album fresh without letting my thoughts on previous albums affect my opinion. I have to say I quite enjoyed the album and plan on checking out Margot’s older material when I get the chance.
Margot has been on the scene for some time, and is led by singer Richard Edwards. Rot Gut, Domestic is in fact Margot’s fourth album. The album is a fairly straightforward rock album, which surprised me since I’ve seen the band described mostly as a chamber pop group. It’s no secret to anyone that I like my rock & roll, and Margot plays some good rock on this record. They may not do anything incredibly new or exciting with it, but good rock & roll is good rock & roll.
There’s only one way to describe the majority of the sound on this album, and that’s fuzzy. I say that in the best way of course, I love fuzzy. Rot Gut is guitar driven, and is dominated by distorted fuzzy riffs. Some of the riffs were so droning and trancey for a second I forgot I wasn’t listening to Queens Of The Stone Age (this is particularly true of “Arvydas Sabonis”). Usually the riffs don’t last enough to maintain this illusion very long, and no matter how you slice it Margot is no Queens. The album is not without its slower more intimate moments either, with quite a few soft delicate songs between the fuzzy tracks. The tracks are all punctuated with lyrics full of acerbic wit and silliness.
We covered lead single (and it’s video) “Prozac Rock” a while back, but amongst the rest of the album it seems to get lost, and I found it slightly underwhelming. I felt similarly about opening track “Disease Tobacco Free” and a few other tracks. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with the tracks but they often have much better tracks bookending them, essentially making them forgettable. I much preferred tracks like “Books About Trains,” ”Shannon,”and “Fisher Of Men” to name a few. The straightforward presentation of these songs is wonderful. The lyrics are very clever, often with protagonists that are self aware yet unsure about what they want. “Books About Trains” has Edwards progress from asking “Why would I go outside?” to declaring “I want to go outside.” The albums softer moments don’t disappoint either. “Coonskin Cap” is a beautiful, heartbreaking song (and despite it being one of the softer more intimate songs on the album it is split by a loud distorted guitar solo). “A Journalist Falls In Love” was another favorite of mine. It tells the story of a journalist who fell in love with a death row inmate she’s writing a story on. With its stripped down sound and subject matter I couldn’t help but think of A Perfect Circle’s “The Nurse Who Loved Me.” It’s silly, serious, and melancholy at the same time.
I guess I can’t say I’m firmly in the Margot fan camp just yet, but I do really enjoy this album. It may have a few less than stellar filler tracks, but it makes up for it with some really good straightforward rock tracks. The album doesn’t presume too much, and it doesn’t seem to try too hard (something that can be a bit of a common problem in indie music). Rot Gut, Domestic sounds like a band that’s pretty comfortable. It’s filled with good, fuzzy riffs and memorable lyrics. I actually find myself hoping the rest of Margot’s material has at least some of the sound of this album.
1. Disease Tobacco Free
2. Books About Trains
4. Prozac Rock
5. A Journalist Falls In Love
6. Frank Left
7. Fisher Of Men
8. Arvydas Sabonis
9. Coonskin Cap
10. Ludlow Junk Hustle
11. The Devil