Even the filler material worms itself into your subconscious

Urge Overkill’s reunion wasn’t the most anticipated in rock history.

The uber-cool Chicago power pop trio is best known for “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon” from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack but probably best loved among this readership for 1993’s “Sister Havana”. The tragedy of their break-up 16 years ago was that it came after a great album, Exit The Dragon, which sold poorly. That’s a bad reason to break up and an even worse one in which to record a follow-up.

Another reviewer pointed out that the Pulp Fiction sound was good for Urge Overkill only in a financial sense and probably ruined their creative progress. That reviewer was spot-on.

Two thirds of the original line-up – Nash Kato and Eddie “King” Roeser – are back for Rock’n’Roll Submarine. I’m pleased to report the magic lingers. Opening single “Effigy” combines a crunching riff, literate lyrics and that intangible attitude that made UO great. Opener “Mason/Dixon” starts so well, you’re almost wetting your pants about what’s ahead.

By the way, what was the “crime below the Mason/Dixon line”?

Unfortunately, Rock & Roll Submarine is not without its fillers and some of the mid-tempo tracks seem to go not very far at all. “Little Vice”, “The Valiant” and “Touch to a Cut” are cases in point. They are too cool for their own good, straying into alt country and even semi-electronic territory. But such are The Urge’s effortless mastery of hooks, even the filler material worms itself into your subconscious. You’ll simultaneously not want to listen to these songs again and not be able to forget them – a curious combination.

Mid-tempo songs which do hit the mark include “Poison Flower”, “Thought Balloon” and “End of Story”. There’s a quality about these slick ditties, with understated licks and infectious choruses, that gives the impression they were always meant to be written. They were just waiting for someone cool enough to come along and do it.

Urge Overkill’s return was anticipated by this reviewer – and for the most part he was not disappointed.

1. Mason/Dixon
2. Rock n’Roll Submarine
3. Effigy
4. Poison Flower
5. Little Vice
6. Thought Balloon
7. Quiet Person
8. She’s My Ride
9. End of Story
10. The Valiant
11. Niteliner
12. Touch to a Cut