Rocket From The Crypt Scream, Dracula, Scream! Elemental ELM34CD

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The Independent Online
Sometimes, sheer enthusiasm can make the simplest things stingingly effective, as with this San Diego retro-punk band. Rocket From The Crypt are aptly named, bringing as they do a long-dead genre back to life with all the propulsive power of an Apollo rocket. The result is perhaps the best flat-out blast of energy since The Clash's first album, with a few more i's dotted and t's crossed. So the Pistols may be about to reform? So what? They couldn't possibly mean it as much now as Rocket From The Crypt do, maaan.

This is the group's third album in under a year - quite a work-rate for a band who continue to affect the standard punky claims of laziness, as they do on "Drop Out". Less punkishly, perhaps, it is also quite some progression from last year's mini-albums The State of Art Is on Fire and Hot Charity. Indeed, the original intention, according to the sleeve notes, was to segue all the tracks together with "string arrangements and triumphant woodwind and brass passages", to create a "little symphony for kids", but these were later deleted. The result is that on Scream, Dracula, Scream!, Rocket From The Crypt sound like a combination of all the best aspects of your favourite late-Seventies spiky-tops, blending Wire's questing diversity with the anthemic appeal of populists like Sham 69 on the crunching riffing of songs such as "On a Rope" and "Middle". The melodic euphoria of "Ball Lightning" will gladden the heart of anyone saddened by The Replacements' break-up.

In particular, the addition of sax and trumpet has brought a fatter, punchier edge to their riffs, in the manner of early Teardrop Explodes, while their arrangements are sprouting strange appendages hitherto unheard in the genre, like tubular bells and glockenspiel. It makes for a kind of guttersnipe grandiosity which is oddly compelling but utterly baffling, the vocals being buried too deep in the mix for easy comprehension. As perhaps they ought.

Most of all, though, Scream, Dracula, Scream! is far and away the best flat-out rock 'n' roll record of recent years, a howling gale blowing through the dusty passages of industry mediocrity.