CD Review of No Deliverance by Toadies
Recommended if you like
The Pixies, The Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jr.
Label
Kirtland Records
Toadies: No Deliverance

Reviewed by James B. Eldred

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T
he mid-‘90s saw a lot of post-grunge “alternative” flash in the pans and one-hit wonders. The Presidents of the United States of America, Collective Soul, Sponge, Better Than Ezra; the list goes on and on. Some bands rightfully vanished into obscurity (Deep Blue Something, anyone?) while others got a bum rap.

For many, the Toadies fell into the latter group. Their debut album, Rubberneck, catapulted them to alt-rock stardom with the smash hit ”Possum Kingdom,” but soon after, the Texan foursome seemingly vanished without a trace. Thanks to label interference (the band completed an entire album, only to see it shelved by Interscope), it took them seven years to release their sophomore album, Hell Below/Stars Above, and since seven years is a long time in the pop music world, the album tanked and the band called it quits a short time after.

But while the Toadies vanished into the Texas sunset, the same couldn’t be said for “Possum Kingdom.” It’s a song with staying power, something you can’t say about most songs from that era (anyone hear “Plowed” lately?). Its inclusion in Guitar Hero probably didn’t hurt things, either. Now, after a few extremely successful reunion shows (minus the original bass player), the band is back with No Deliverance, and it sounds like they never left. Todd Lewis and his band of twisted Texans are just as obsessed with the disturbed and perverse as they were in 1994, and their musical aggression and energy haven’t dropped a bit.

The Toadies have always been a dark band. The strongest tunes on Rubberneck were odes to broken hearts, broken promises and occasionally broken bones, and No Deliverance keeps those themes going strong, starting with a vengeful bang on “So Long Lovey Eyes,” where non-stop grinding guitars serve as a backdrop to Lewis’ wailing as he compares a dying relationship with a dying flame: “From the fire that we started / How did we get so fucking cold?” The dark ride continues with the violence-drenched “Nothing to Cry About,” which is about a pair of young lovers plotting to kill one of their parents, and the title track, which subtly suggests that finding the love of your life is like drowning to death in cold water.

About the only reprieve from the nonstop barrage of dark and twisted thoughts is the slightly poppy “Song I Hate.” Lighter both in tone and style (it almost sounds like an OK Go song), it compares the girlfriend you can’t manage to dump with the pop song you can’t turn off the radio. So while it’s still a song about messed-up lovers, at least no one’s life is being threatened.

No Deliverance isn’t a concept album, but it’s definitely a record with an overlying theme, and that theme is “fuck relationships.” You expect a band to get lighter and softer once the members hit middle age, but the Toadies are meaner, heavier and bitterer than ever. Not only should longtime fans of the group enjoy No Deliverance, but kids sick of the current crop of alt-rock love songs, whose recurring message seems to be “I’m worthless, please love me,” might enjoy a change of pace with the Toadies, whose recurring message seems to be “I’m worthless, but you’re more worthless -- now go die.”

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