Oregon rockers graduate from grunge to gadgetry
Portland’s poutiest love to send out conflicting signals. That crossover phone-ad hit (“Bohemian Like You”) disguised the fact that they’re a filthily wondrous live band who could eat The Strokes for breakfast. Now their fourth album, named after a Kurt Vonnegut book, arrives with production from ex-Durannie Nick Rhodes and backing vocals from Simon Le Bon. Which leaves them sounding more electro than grunge. Then Tony Visconti helms a couple of tracks, Nile Rodgers guests and Evan Dando co-writes a song. It could get confusing:you have to stay with Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s dry-as-sand voice as it leads you through the modernist maze. “Hit Rock Bottom” is pure T. Rex. They could’ve been new rock messiahs, but chose to be pop-art prophets. It’s arrogantly risky. That’s their best feature. Still cool.