By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
Details magazine proclaimed I'll Take It "the best album by a New York band since Remain in Light" -- such hyperbolic gushing has been commonplace for Brooklyn's Mink Lungs. Unlikely candidates for anti-scenester royalty -- Talking Heads be hanged -- the band is infinitely more adventurous than the one-note gutter rawkers of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, and far less predictable than the gloom patrol of Interpol. As practitioners of rollicking psych pop, the quartet is quickly distinguishing itself in Gotham City's ever-widening circle of "it" bands with its infectiously quirky humor.
Whether burning down a frat house ("Dishes") or channeling John Cale for X-rated voyages through cosmic emptiness ("Bunny Bought a Spaceship"), this shape-shifting lot of urbane scatterpates has collegiate art rock down pat. Exuding experimental confidence that finds the members swapping instruments as often as mike duties, the Lungs take a cue from the mighty Ween, managing to sound like a different band on every other song.
When Tim Feleppa fronts, he croons like Leonard Cohen at a slower speed, seething molasses and emphysema on fuzz-blown tunes such as "Black Balloon" and "Flying Saucer Home." In the second vocal slot, fellow guitarist/half-brother Gian Carlo Feleppa celebrates retro fashion ("Men in Belted Sweaters") with enough conviction to honor Starsky, Hutch and Huggy Bear. When that joke wears thin (and it does), Gian Carlo endures bed spins for the good of indie rock, muttering drug-blissed, lascivious asides on tunes like "Gorilla" that garner a few guffaws: "She fell asleep on the train with her legs apart/Her underwear was white with little red hearts." Meanwhile, the sweet-as-baklava girlie coo of bassist Jennifer "Ms. Frosty" Hoopes oozes pheromones on punk-fueled numbers ("Awesome Pride," "Mrs. Lester"), but she saves her best feminine ammunition for an inconsiderate neighbor ("The Man Downstairs"). Spoofing the Butthole Surfers' "Pepper" with the agitated squall of "Sensual Pleasure," Ms. Frosty flirts with radio friendliness but quickly tosses it aside like a worn-out sex toy.
If all of this sounds self-indulgent, it is -- entertainingly so. The Lungs' scattershot approach exploits everything from dobros and harps to back-masked bagpipes while somehow remaining cohesive and accessible. Producer Ray Ketchem (Melting Hopefuls, Elk City, Mendoza Line, Shirk Circus) upgrades the sonic punch from the group's debut, Better Button, venturing into alt-country stylings ("Sad Song of the Birds") or injecting the occasional angry answering-machine message into the mix ("Pugnose Apt"). Reminiscent of Surfer Rosa-era Pixies or the long-lost outtakes from Bongwater's heyday on Shimmydisc, this Minked brand of eccentricity documents joy, irreverence and fearless experimentation.