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Skeleton Key’s teaser of a fall indie EP translated to record what we’ve heard since the young band’s first few shows, the hype from which had labels a-courting and bands like Jesus Lizard and Morphine requesting the band’s company—succinct, galvanic, somewhat calculated slices of souped-up rock ‘n’ roll and loping, gleefully perverse, somewhat pompous back-alley fables. The much anticipated major-label debut is an even cannier package, throwing in a couple of the better EP songs and going further in directions familiar to the band, which features both former Lounge Lizard Erik Sanko and Butter 08’s Rick Lee. Particularly amusing are the two songs produced by Girls Against Boys’ oft-turned-to Eli Janney, “Big Teeth” and “All the Things I’ve Lost,” which take the band’s Lower East Side white-boy junkyard funk to the old school, powered by Lee’s massive, elaborate percussion. It’s the most keenly channeled Parliament since Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Elsewhere, Barkmarket adept Dave Sardy and the band take the board, managing quite nicely to make a record that’s rich yet digestible. In other words, both the art and pop camps will be pleased. You’re going to have fun, and these guys have enough guile that there’s always another twist around the bend. So when the tales are sounding tall, when you feel like you’re being played, just chuckle along madly and listen.

—Michael Wiener