Around two and a half years on from their explosive and politically charged debut No Name No Colour, Middle Class Rut return with Pick Up Your Head, another aggressive collection. Although Pick Up Your Head seems far less politicised, there is still a great deal of anger and passion on display here.
The album kicks off with the hyperactive cacophony of Born Too Late which comes across as an updated version of Nine Inch Nails' Wish. The guitars and vocals wrestle for space but the clear winner here is the drums, which are at full force, front and centre in the mix.
After this, the album takes on a little more restraint with songs such as Leech and Weather Vein, which take in a kind of Led Zeppelin stomp in terms of the percussion, and are much more groove based in their approach. The mix is thick with layer upon layer of instruments and reverb and the vocals soar, calling to mind Perry Farrell from Jane's Addiction. It is excellent to hear Middle Class Rut really spreading their wings and stretching themselves into new shapes which are far removed from their Rage Against the Machine aping debut album.
In places, however, the experimentation doesn't exactly work and some songs fall fairly flat. The main culprits of this are the title track Pick Up Your Head, which does not really go anywhere despite some interesting percussion at the start, and Police Man, which plods along on a winding bass riff for far too long. Other songs become casualties to the muddled, echo-laden mix, such as Cut the Line, which is probably the most adventurous song on offer here. To put a positive spin on this, it becomes clear why this band swells from two men in the studio to a five piece when they play live.
All that being said, on the whole the album is a great collection of songs, best expressed by the anthemic strains of No More, the recent single Aunt Betty and the brilliant conclusion to the mostly acoustic Dead Eye. They still have a tendency to wear their influences a little too readily upon their sleeves, but Pick Up Your Head sees Middle Class Rut moving in the right direction.
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