After a powerhouse, blockbuster LP such as Mush, Leatherface were bound to fall off a bit, and there are indeed fewer places here where the tuneful, roaring overload sends one over the deep edge. Also, Minx fails to progress from its remarkable predecessor. But taken on its own, the fourth LP is still very much a ferocious force to be reckoned with, and when it scales its highest peaks, many songs still pack one f*#% of a wallop (bleep!). It starts off as cranklin' as ever, especially the low, fast, thoughtfully violent "Fat, Earthy, Flirt" (which starts soft and then surges like a light bulb in Uncle Fester's mouth) and an old-time smasher, "Books." As it moves along, Minx sounds a bit too samey, but still sustains the heapin' hooks and super lyrics. A lot of the songs seem ordinary, or not their best, but each has some place - a chorus, a striking bridge, a well-placed, dramatic buildup - where it sounds triumphant, or incredibly exciting, so even the lesser tracks have the capacity to flat-out stun, especially the blistering closer "Pale Moonlight," which blows away the previous acoustic version, and the rapid-fire, flowing "Heaven Sent."
Yes, it's time this powerful quartet figured out something new to do with its amazing, knockout onslaught, particularly as singer/guitarist Frankie Stubbs keeps finding ways to sound like the only sincere singer in the world through that grotesquely rough voice of his. But even if they never do, it's impossible to take for granted this kind of tuneful, flexible, well-executed pummeling, especially given Stubbs's ability with a lyric pen. Another superb album, as much experience as music.
Note: Since it preferred Mush, and since Leatherface can sign to any label they want now, the U.S. label Seed sadly declined to release Minx, even though they issued Mush here nearly a year after its English release. From a business sense it makes sense; unless Leatherface re-signs to Roughneck, Seed loses the future rights. But somebody should have let this firecracker loose in the U.S. Somebody here noticed Mush, we'd bet!
We can't, however, fully recommend picking up the "Do the Right Thing" single. Not only is the A-side about the sixth-best of the LP's dozen smashers, but two of the three B-sides are acoustic versions of songs done on LPs by the full band. "Skin Deep" (not the Passions or Stranglers' singles) is OK, but the Minx version rocks so hard that is missed, and the same is true only more so of one of Mush's most memorable tracks, "Not Superstitious" (though this version is at least pretty enough to be a large contrast, and thus memorable in its own right).
The only non-LP, full-band track here, "Cabbage Case," is one of their best new songs, and should have found a home on the album. The melody line is distinct, and Stubbs all but goes to pieces letting it go. But one hot song for the ten bucks is a little too expensive, even for their biggest fans here, and as the Compact and Bijou EP showed last year (reviewed in issue 32 by Dave Burokas), they've previously given us much more than this in the EP format. (21a Maury Rd., London N16 7BP, England, U.K.)