The twin title tracks of Spiderbait’s Tonight Alright pretty much sum up the Aussie thrash-pop trio’s identity crisis: The simple and sweet four-and-a-half-minute “Tonight” is juxtaposed with the one-and-a-half-minute “Alright,” the former delivered in a straightforward manner with a few bars of electric guitar echoed by bassist Janet English’s faint “la la la la” backing vocal (it’s probably too subtle a piece for American radio, but if the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps” can strike a chord, then who knows?), while the latter is a straight-up punk tune. But lest we accuse English, drummer/lead vocalist Mark Maher (alias Kram), and guitarist Damien Whity (alias Whitt) of jumping on the [insert latest rock revival] bandwagon or trying to cross-market themselves by jumping through genre hoops, Spiderbait have been shamelessly doing their indie-punk/pop thing since 1992’s P’tangYangPipperBangUh!!. Each of the band’s releases has been a stepping-stone, and Tonight Alright is no exception. Though less prominent here than on 2000’s Grand Slam, English takes the mic on a third of the album’s tracks and her songs in particular have a strong pop sensibility: The playful and sexy “Fucken Awesome” evokes Shirley Manson and Garbage at their best, while “Live In A Box” and “Cows” are reminiscent of the Pixies, the Go-Go’s, and even the Dance Hall Crashers. Most of the album capitalizes on the garage-rock formula that has become the critics’ rage (“Take Me Back” and the metal-tinged “5th Set”), but, unfortunately, Spiderbait aren’t able to fully transcend their influences—even if they do do it well.
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