Past criticisms of Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s read as follows: They can be too precious and simultaneously morose; they take themselves too seriously; and, according to some sources, they didn’t really start putting out solid material until the 2010 release of their fourth album, Buzzard. While critics have been known to be tough on this perpetually on-the-verge group, Margot and co. have maintained a fan base as loyal as the detractors are harsh.
(Some listeners may have been disappointed when they discovered that there wasn’t actually anyone named Margot in the band, but that’s neither here nor there.)
Chamber pop is a subjective genre, at best, but with their latest release, Rot Gut, Domestic, this unusually large rock ensemble (at last count, eight… if all else fails, they could find a friend and start a baseball team) manages to offer up a pleasing 42-minute respite from the real world. What is striking about this latest effort, aside from the llama-centric (is that a llama?) album art, is how grounded and even heavy many of the songs are. While the Margot crowd has been compared to Radiohead before, their current sound is closer to Built to Spill and other early 90s darlings; they’ve left most of the acoustic strumming in the dust, with the exception of “A Journalist Falls in Love”, the charming story of a reporter who falls for a serial killer she’s covering. It’s just the right amount of quirky and disconcerting, bridging the old and the new.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll ask for your money back, Rot Gut, Domestic doesn’t really push the envelope; it’s heavier, yes, but ultimately not that different in terms of woeful content. Tunes such as “Coonskin Cap” can pleasantly score your next make out session, and tracks like “Arvydas Sabonis” will undoubtedly be great for playing air drums to in the car. Overall, this is a very accessible album, but it might not be enough to push anyone from one camp into the other. Haters gonna hate, and die-hard fans will eat it up.
Essential Tracks: “Prozac Rock”, “Coonskin Cap”, and “Arvydas Sabonis”