If Danzig's meaty sneer was wrapped in a Gun Club-style echo chamber of pathos, that raunchy ego-bath might come close to approximating the explosive genius that is "Pawn Shoppe Heart." Crystalline reverb and crackling distortion are hallmarks of this Detroit group's sound, and, amazingly, Jerry Harrison's production comes a whole hell of a lot closer to nailing the band's visceral appeal than did Jack White's work on their debut. (A major-label budget probably didn't hurt matters much, either.) Head Bondie Jason Stollsteimer claws his way through most of these tracks in a sort of dyspeptic haze, simultaneously angry and emotionally exhausted, allowing his guitar and the raw tension of the band to bear much of the weight of expression. Far more effective than their raw debut, "Pawn Shoppe Heart" only occasionally falls prey to the retro-garage affectations that threatened to derail that record. Here, the quartet shows how much a year on the road can sharpen a band's vision of their own music and, as a result, this is a surprisingly accomplished and exciting record.
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