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Elastica's second album, The Menace
, comes a full five years after their million selling, self-titled debut
. A long wait, to say the least, but The Menace
doesn't find Elastica making a radical change from the angular pop of their first album. The departure of guitarist Donna Matthews (who still plays on two tracks, "How He Wrote Elastica Man"--which also features the Fall
's Mark E Smith--and "Image Change") steered the band away from their punkier leanings and allowed them to fully explore the New Wave path that they started down way back in 1995. Keyboards and synths now blend more completely with their spiky guitars, as do cheesy Casio tone beats and retro-futuristic samples, resulting in such hyper-energetic numbers as "MadDog God Dam" and "Your Arse My Place". Elastica still wear their influences on their sleeves--yep, they sure do like Wire
--and they even manage to fit a legitimate cover onto the album (Trio's 1982 hit "Da Da Da").Five years on, The Menace
sees Elastica on the same ground as their debut, but rather than simply re-treading it, they just dig deeper and unearth more treasures. --Robert Burrow