Let’s take a moment of silence in honor of the title of the new McLusky album. Look at it. Savor it. The Difference Between Me and You is That I’m Not on Fire. Their previous album, 2002’s amusingly-if-not-brilliantly titled McLusky Do Dallas, spent a good deal of time expressing the opinion that they were better than every other band — and this title seems to confirm it.
Tell people you love the name of McLusky’s new album. They won’t laugh. There will be a pause, where a hint of realization washes over their faces. Slowly, it will begin to dawn on them. “Oh my God,” they will say, “that is the best title I have ever heard in my life.” And they won’t be exaggerating. They will be stating a fact, like when all those guys stood up and said, “I am Spartacus,” ’cause even though they weren’t all actually Spartacus, they were speaking to the more universal truth that there is a Spartacus in all of us.
McLusky has clever titles; there is no doubt about it. “Without MSG I am Nothing,” “1956 and All That” and “Your Children are Waiting for You to Die” are just a few of the songs on their latest sneer of a record. They share their love of lengthy titles with the similar art-punk outfit Liars, but McLusky is certainly the more poppy of the two. Which is surprising, considering the more hardcore slant that the Welsh natives take in their sound: a scream or two here, a dark, thumping guitar riff there.
But for all their bite, the band is mostly fascinated by melodies and hooks, best evidenced by “She Will Only Bring You Happiness,” the album’s best song. Carrying as many as three hooks, the song reaches a surreal high point two minutes in, when a three-track echo of “our old singer is a sex criminal” produces a sound not unlike pop heaven: lush, melodic and catchy as hell. As one of the softer songs on the album, it gives the band room to grow into a more diverse producer of solid Pixies-like rock.
The catchiness doesn’t stop when they bring the pain. The first song’s “everywhere I look is a darkness” refrain (along with the line “I get my MSG/ from digital TV”) and detached delivery meshes brilliantly with the guitar riff turned attack. But somewhere along the line the album loses its steam, and excellent numbers like “Kkkitchens, What Were You Thinking?” turn into generic hardcore like “Slay” and “Forget About Him, I’m Mint.” The former’s descending volume cutting out only to be blasted back to the top of the scale is done well, but seems trite after the cleverness of the rest of the album. It’s not enough to ruin what is most certainly an enjoyable listen, but it prevents The Difference Between You and Me from being the breakthrough that everyone knows McLusky is capable of.