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Backlash is a funny thing. Most everybody is lining up to attack Veruca Salt, even though the group’s new album, Eight Arms to Hold You, is far better than its 1994 debut, American Thighs. Perhaps people want to hate the Chicago quartet because it got famous faster than it deserved; Thighs was essentially one great single, “Seether,” surrounded by downtempo Breeders-wannabe sludge. Perhaps the backlash is due to the band’s seemingly compulsive name-dropping: From the moniker Veruca Salt to the name of the group’s publishing company, Are You There God It’s Me, to the album titlesthe first an AC/DC reference, the follow-up the original name of the Beatles’ Help! movieto the line “Here’s another clue if you please/The seether’s Louise” from “Volcano Girls,” lead Saltines Nina Gordon and Louise Post seem unable to resist copping other people’s ideas when they ought to be coming up with their own. This failing applies to the music as well; Veruca Salt hasn’t got an ounce of originality in it, but the new disc’s sound has been cleaned up and revved up by producer Bob Rock, and the filler tends toward pleasantly melodic Aimee Mannerisms (“One Last Time,” “Loneliness Is Worse”) rather than the slo-metal posturing that larded down Thighs. Gordon in particular writes some catchy shiny-pop tunes: “Volcano Girls” is almost as compelling as “Seether,” and “Awesome,” “With David Bowie” (there they go again), and “The Morning Sad” are all bouncily hummable. Veruca Salt may not have any new ideas, but on Eight Arms the group has gotten quite good at recycling some old ones.James Lochart