The Book of Margot

As mentioned here before, releasing a double album is more often than not a bad idea. It either takes some serious stones or inflated ego to want to put so much of yourself out there for criticism when it could easily float awry. Well another linesthroughlines fave (Margot & the Nuclear So-and-So's) has slid their chips to the center of the table and are awaiting the flop with bated breath...

Animal!/Not Animal began as a mildly humorous, urban-myth-strewn idea with potential for greatness. Margot had significant buzz following 2006's long-playing The Dust of Retreat which got them signed to Epic Records. Ringleader Richard Edwards' prolific pen created a bigger problem than you'd think: the label liked one set of 12 songs, Edwards liked another. As rumor has it, Edwards flew to the label's headquarters with an ultimatum. If the label didn't let him release the songs he wanted, he was going to intentionally leak the album to the internet (gasp!). While I'm sure that would have gotten him sued penniless, it apparently worked. The compromise was Animal! (the band's choice, released on vinyl) and Not Animal (Epic's, on CD), which originally were slated to be released as two separate entities a week apart. At some point someone realized the folly of that idea and the two released simultaneously, though the records have 5 songs common between them. At this point, there could be no other way...

While Not Animal begins (and for the most part continues) on the right path with the moody "A Children's Crusade on Acid", Animal! begins with the 6-minute "At the Carnival", hinting at a more arduous journey ahead. Almost sadly, I think the "big-bad-record-label" got their half right. It flows and has legitimate commercial appeal (which I'm sure Epic is hoping for). Animal! is true to the band's desires and has similar moments of moxy (closing with "As Tall As Cliffs" was brilliant), but ends up being the snoozer of the two.

Unfortunately, the double-album concept ends up distracting each from the other. I find myself having to choose between one or the other, a move that effectively cuts my ears off from worthy tracks exclusive to only one of the albums ("O' What a Nightmare", "My Baby (Shoots Her Mouth Off)", "Papers Written On a Wall", and "Holy Cow!"). "As Tall As Cliffs" is one of the year's best songs and thankfully appears on both, as do solid tracks like "Hello Vagina" and "A Children's Crusade on Acid." There are some nice mood songs that flow seamlessly in context and sound odd on their own (The Dust of Retreat was chock-full of them). There are some definite misses.

Despite (and because of) all of the above, I highly recommend both of these records. I recommend ripping both and making your own 12-song album, in tribute of Richard Edwards' idea. There's something for everyone inside, even if it takes a little time to dig up. With a band this beautifully weird, it's a risk well worth taking.

**Check out the topical and fabulous video for "As Tall As Cliffs" here.

As Tall As Cliffs
[from Not Animal|buy]
There's Talk of Mine Shafts
[from Animal!|buy]


Blogger Hanan said...

this band is great

6:43 PM  

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