Every Thursday, Pop Addict presents infectious tunes from contemporary musicians across indie rock, pop, folk, electronica, and more.
Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s: Buzzard (Mariel Recordings, 9/21/10)
Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s: “Birds”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/1285885158Margot_and_the_Nuclear_So_and_Sos_Birds.mp3|titles=Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s: “Birds”]
Following the Animal!/Not Animal tussle with the bosses at Epic in 2008, Indianapolis’ Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s has released Buzzard, its third full-length album, on its own Mariel Recordings label.
A record very much about rebirth and reinvention, Buzzard signals the band’s shift to a louder, more energetic sound. Its signature chamber-pop melodies are now reinforced with fuzzed-out guitars and a more pronounced, uptempo rhythm section, helped in large part by the addition of drummer and producer Brian Deck (Red Red Meat).
Displaced after a fire damaged the home that singer-songwriter Richard Edwards shared with his seven bandmates in Indianapolis, Edwards moved to Chicago to record Buzzard in an abandoned movie theater in Ukrainian Village. It was there that he enlisted the help of Chicagoans Deck and Tim Rutili of Red Red Meat, Ronnie Kwasman, and Cameron McGill. The songs, loosely inspired by the 8mm nudie-cutie films that Edwards recovered from the theater’s basement, were recorded from 10 PM to 5 AM without the use of artificial light. The result is a strangely dark and eclectic album, filled to the brim with haunting harmonies and grungy guitar work not found on the band’s earlier records.
Fans of Margot’s first two albums will find some familiar notes in the acoustic-driven “Lunatic, Lunatic, Lunatic” and ending track “I Do” and in “Tiny Vampire Robot.” Might the lyrics “Forget the place you’re leaving / But no one ever does / Oh, Tiny Vampire Robot, fill the dance floor with blood” be referring to the band’s split with a major label, and its new unbridled songwriting? It’s hard to dismiss such a notion when the entire album feels as if the band has been unchained from some enormous, leaden weights.
With bigger, more adventurous songs like “Let’s Paint our Teeth Green” and “New York City Hotel Blues,” Buzzard teems with energy that the last album largely lacked. The move to a predominantly electric set-up has allowed the band to turn to a more aggressive style of songwriting, where it can chart new terrain with added freedom.
Buzzard is about confronting displacement head on — from a hometown, from a less-than-amicable relationship with a major label, from an original lineup, and from a seemingly limited sound.
Rising from the ashes of that Indianapolis house fire, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s has found new life in its more expansive, exploratory sound. The band has crafted a record that feels unshackled and serves as a testament to its independent Midwestern roots. If Buzzard is this band’s rebirth, the coming years are sure to be exciting.