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|Studio album by The Walkabouts|
|Genre||Alternative rock, alternative country, heartland rock|
|Producer||Tucker Martine and The Walkabouts|
|The Walkabouts chronology|
The content of the songs
A scathing, furious attack on the George W. Bush government and its foreign policy, it opens up with 'Fuck Your Fear', a slow grinding barrage of distorted, hazy guitars and pounding, tolling-bell drums. Eckman and Torgerson's joint vocals describe a world teetering on the abyss in which the 60's hippy dream has long gone rotten ("Dead folksingers lie in state/Acolytes scrape off their plates/The message falls onto deaf ears") and death comes quickly and in abundance ("New gravediggers born each day").
The second track 'Coming Up for Air' turns its attention on the environment and whips together heavy jangles of guttural guitar chord and klaxoning keyboards with grinding slithers of Wells' bass and more of Moeller's funereal drum beats. With an urgent Eckman this time singing on his own, it tells of the Latin American poor forced to work as cheap labour in mines that have long since been rendered poisonous and unsafe. ("Suckin' alabaster in a ventilator shaft/Chewin' on surrender because it's cheap and it lasts/This ain't hell, it's a holdin' tank"). Outside though the air is no fresher and similarly polluted ("I know this tunnel leads outside/Down to the river where the elephants die").
Later on, the distorted, detuned 'Kalishnikov' portrays the "closed circuit silence" and horror world of two Third World refugees, who are herded from one transit camp into the next ("They're bulldozing the suburbs down/Putting up a razor fence"), but whose guards are also trapped and imprisoned ("The commando squad/is bored and poorly fed/Surveillance is their dog/And it's hounding us to death").
As 'Acetylene' seers towards its conclusion, Eckman's lyrics become increasingly futuristic. The penultimate track, the gusting, discordant 'Before This City Wakes', finds its narrator wandering around a dying city of the near future which, as law and order totally breaks down, has slid into complete chaos and moral hell (" So many victims of pleasure/That I've stopped counting")
By the time of the final song, the nine minute 'The Last Ones', the apocalypse has come. After all the thunder and discordance of the previous nine songs, 'The Last Ones' in contrast is soft and elegiac. Ebbing guitars revolve and rotate against a backdrop of eerie atmospherics from Slater and Moeller. Eckman and Torgerson, both singing together, are two of the last survivors, dreamily wanting to head home, even though there is no home left ("We'll be headed home/Heaven knows/There was no place for us to go").
All songs by Chris Eckman.