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The American party line on L Ron is that it’s the most palatable Barkmarket yet, with hooks galore. That’s partly true, but the New York group’s fifth album doesn’t abandon the hallmarks of its earlier work: playing that melds the best aspects of power-trio work with angularity and flat-out noise, a fascination with commercial scams (see the title), and clinical depictions of grotesque violence. The band adds some new twists this time out, with acoustic guitar and a looser, almost danceable feel taking the lead on several cuts; why, the opening “Visible Cow” is almost a tribute to Zeppelin’s rhythm section. The unhappy-birthday ode “Undone” possesses a simmering restraint that recalls some of the high points of the sadly ignored Vegas Throat—it’s a sort of industrial music that avoids the hackneyed implications of that tag circa ’96. Part of what makes Barkmarket disturbing and, somehow, slightly comical, is the distance main man David Sardy puts between himself, his voice, and the tales his characters tell. Glenn Danzig may be the band’s superior labelmate in terms of revenue—speaking of scams—but his stuff is rarely as truly bothersome as the sound of these ghouls at full throttle. (Sardy is so cognizant of what’s good for your earhole that this CD was delayed while he helped boss Rick Rubin chrome-plate the last Chili Peppers set.) Barkmarket’s sounds are evocative enough that it’s tempting to call L Ron ideal film music. Anyone know if David Lynch is planning a sequel to Eraserhead?

—Rickey Wright