Mink Lungs

I'll Take It (Arena Rock Recording Company)

Sep 10, 2003 at 4:00 am
Details magazine went so far as to call I'll Take It "the best album by a New York band since Remain in Light"; such hyperbolic gushing is commonplace for Brooklyn's Mink Lungs. Unlikely candidates for anti-scenester royalty (Talking Heads be hanged), the Lungs are infinitely more adventurous than the one-note gutter rawkers of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and far less predictable than the gloom patrol of Interpol. Practitioners of rollicking psych-pop, the Lungs are quickly distinguishing themselves in Gotham City's ever-widening circle of "it" bands for a reason: their 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 a confidence that finds the members swapping instruments as often as mic duties, the Lungs take a cue from the mighty Ween, managing to sound like a different band every other song. Tim Ferleepa croons like Leonard Cohen on barbiturates, seething molasses and emphysema on fuzz-blown tunes like "Black Balloon" and "Flying Saucer Home." In the second vocal slot, fellow guitarist/half-brother Gian Carlo celebrates retro fashion ("Men in Belted Sweaters") with enough conviction to honor Starsky, Hutch or Huggy Bear. When that joke wears thin (and it does), Gian endures bed spins for the good of indie rock, muttering drug-blissed, lascivious asides such as "She fell asleep on the train with her legs apart/Her underwear was white with little red hearts." Meanwhile, with her sweet-as-baklava girlie coo, bassist Frosty oozes pheromones on punk-fueled numbers ("Awesome Pride", "Mrs. Lester") but saves her best ammunition for an inconsiderate neighbor ("The Man Downstairs").

If all of this sounds self-indulgent, it is -- entertainingly so. The Lungs' scattershot approach exploits everything from Dobros and harps to 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 début, 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 Bongwater's long-lost outtakes from its heyday on Shimmydisc, the Lungs' brand of eccentricity documents joy, irreverence and fearless experimentation.