PERE UBU Pennsylvania

(Cooking Vinyl COOK CD 139)

"Follow me into town," sings David Thomas, five tracks into Pennsylvania, "you don't know where we're going." By the sound of things, neither does his band at the moment - not that that's necessarily a bad thing. The track, "Silent Spring", is typical of several in the way it seems to coalesce out of mist: a lovely, languid slide guitar, a mysterious atmosphere, and handclaps of desultory rhythmic disinterest. It's like riding through a ghost town.

Pennsylvania is full of mystery tours. "Woolie Bullie" (no relation to Sam the Sham's classic) opens proceedings with Thomas muttering about a stretch of road. Later on, "Drive" is a more propulsive rocker, while "Wheelhouse" is full of gears grinding: plenty of industry, but little convincing motion. One is left on the flipside of the American myth of movement, as fetishised by country songs - an acknowledgement that the nation still has no clear idea where it's heading, or why, but isn't about to let such considerations halt its perpetual motion. Sad, scary stuff.