Straitjacket Fits – Melt
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The second album from New Zealand's Straitjacket Fits suggests that perhaps the Kiwi quartet had been listening to a lot of Cocteau Twins records in the couple of years since their debut, 1988's Hail, was released. Nearly every note of Melt is covered in the sort of gauzy reverb and pillowy echo that characterizes the Twins' albums, and at times, the atmosphere overpowers the songs. (Perhaps it's the fault of producer Gavin MacKillop, who similarly dominated the production of the Chills' Soft Bomb a couple years later.) Once the listener gets past the distracting production, however, this is probably the Straitjacket Fits' strongest set of songs. Certainly the opening one-two of the enormous New Zealand hit "Bad Note for a Heart" and the rumbling throb of "Missing Presumed Drowned" trump anything else the band ever did. Though MacKillop's production eventually makes the songs bleed into each other more than they should by the end of the album, songs like the dreamy "Hand in Mine" are strong enough to overcome any flaws in the sound. (Just in case, however, the EP Missing From Melt remixes "Bad Note for a Heart" and the droning "Skin to Wear" to excellent effect.)