Puerto Muerto - See You In Hell
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Puerto Muerto
See You In Hell

The husband/wife duo of Puerto Muerto made a splash with their very well-received debut Your Bloated Corpse Has Washed Ashore. While the title was a bit on the audacious side, the two backed it up with a firebrand of an album, swinging wildly between crusty pirate and torch songs. While their follow-up Elena EP wasn't quite as successful musically, it showed that the group definitely wasn't afraid to try out some new things as they brought in electronics and other elements for a hit and miss affair that was still mainly entertaining.

See You In Hell is their proper follow-up full length and the group mainly goes back to a more trusty rock sound on the album, which is mostly a good thing. It contains some of the best songs that the group has ever done, as well as a few minor mis-steps that probably won't bother most people who were swooned by their debut. Unfortunately, one of those letdown tracks is the very first song on the album entitled "Atlantic City." The growled vocals by Tim Kelley feel overthought next to the rather plain guitar melodies, but it's also one of the shorter pieces on the release.

Christa Meyer takes over vocals on "Tennessee" and it works perfectly over the hopalong track that mixes a touch of dirty electric guitars over a subtle programmed beat, plucked acoustic guitars and horns for a nice update on the old west (or in this case midwest). "Chapayev's Machine Gunners" drops back into more standard rock territory, but the fact that the duo makes it work so well is a tribute to their two-part harmonies and knack for ever-so-slightly tweaking this formula (in this case breaking down to an almost dub-influenced midsection).

The group is at their best when pulling off the cautionary tales seemingly inspired by Johnny Cash (such as the great "Hangman's Song" and their take on the traditional "Walking Boss"), and even though they did a lot like it on their debut, graceful sea-shanties like "Give Me A Penny" still feel semi-fresh. Although they're a little more spare and occasionally more rocking, the group make a nice companion to work by The Decemberists, seemingly more interested in the lives of those who have already passed and singing songs that aren't tied to any particular time period. Fun stuff.

rating: 7.2510
Aaron Coleman 2004-03-04 00:00:00