March 1, 2007

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Thomas Lunch, Diagrams Without Instructions
Ingrooves Records, 2007

As the symbiotic relationship between alternative rock zines and a panicked record industry gets tighter and tighter, the rebel music-critic alliance can only stand (er, sit on Cheeto-stained couches with their laptops) and watch as herds of Thomas Lunches show up on radar for five minutes each, mugging and flinging doodie on themselves. Diagrams opens with a promise of good things to come, if you’re into depleted ’90s soil that OK Go can’t get right: the vocals are steeped in on-the-phone patch, the bass lines are Buzzcock-ish, and the katchy korus goes “I can’t stop, you can’t stop,” but instead of naming the song “Can’t Stop” they call it “Fire Puppy,” a clue that these dudes are dead serious about making dead un-serious music. Lunch sings like Joe Walsh on a sugar kick and plays lead guitar like Neil Young wearing a catcher’s mitt, spending songs one through three publicly indulging in Foo Fighters guitar-god moves invented while lip-synching into a hairbrush. It’s not at all horrible at that point, sort of a Foo Ferdinand or Franz Fighters pot luck, but then comes “Tater Tots & Robots,” a scarily stupid in-joke marking the point at which their well ran bone-dry. C Eric W. Saeger