If the phrase "experimental rock" brings to mind visions of black-turtleneck-clad art-school graduates or another flannel-flocked Sonic Spoof, the Slats are about to blow your taurine-addled mind. When it comes to experiments, these three Minneapolis-based hooligans would rather see what happens when you spray Binaca into a Bunsen burner than mess around with microscopes and beakers. The booger-flicking attitude that Brian Cox, Jon Hansen and Mark Tietjen bring to their indie-rock underground lab gives a fresh and congenial appeal to each new undertaking. Whether flirting convincingly with nerd-core gangsta rap, sharpening a post-punk buzzsaw riff or moping through a loser's love song, the Slats balance deftly between overly clever experimentation and overly simplistic joke rock. In the end, the trio's crisp melodies, arresting hooks and better-than-average musicianship are all that matter. Like the kid in your biology class who turned the fetal pig dissection into a porcine puppet show, it's hard not to like the Slats — even when they're annoying.
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