DESTINATION: LOVE - LIVE AT COLD RICE - The Make-Up (Dischord)
For my money, one of the best bands ever on the Dischord label was The Nation Of Ulysses. Those post-hardcore punks made some of the most exciting, badass, and rebellious tunes in the early 1990s for the cool kids and the cool kids only.
Even if I was too young to remember that band or their label Dischord Records in their heyday, one still can seem to hear the cries of punk purists when the band broke up and shortly thereafter formed The Make-Up. Even today it seems that these wet-dream saviors came to an end much too soon.
The Make-Up, also defunct since earlier this decade, played an original brand of gospel, garage-punk with a dash of soul. Despite still remaining on indie-punk record labels many NOU fans, due to the band’s radical change of sound, have always had a lot of diverse opinions on this new project: some were thrilled with this newly created mash-of-genres the unit personified with a heavy dash of style and rabble-rousing politics. Others, however, felt The Make-Up were nothing more than glossy veneer over thin substance. Both of these opinions could be justifiably debated on any number of their albums much like it is on their 1996 debut: Destination: Love: Live At Cold Rice.
After the quick intro the first real initiation to the band starts off like so many later Make-Up records will - with a lively, red-hot rocker that oftentimes eclipses the rest of disc. "Destination: Love" does even a bit better, because there is a couple of great beginnings, and one more that peaks interest. It’s just too bad the rest of the opus does not keep this stimulation up.
The jump-off stunner (“Here Comes The Judge”) shows the band at their most energetic and refined, and it is also the main reason to give even the worst spots of the rest of the album a careful ear. Another good ’n is in the next track (“You+ I Vs. The World”) that may not be as fun since it’s slightly slower, but the mellow tune still sells. The second and last truly great spot on the album, before it scatters off into oblivion, is the rousing “They Live By Night,” a scorcher that’ll get the adrenaline running through anyone’s system. Sadly, after this The Make-Up’s subversive quality stops for the rest of the record.
The balance of the tunes may still be slightly above average, but it’s disappointing that The Make-Up seem not to fully develop any the rest of the track’s ideas. Instead, the bulk of "Destination: Love" feels sluggish with nothing to offer in the way of hooks, melody, or even good choruses. The only reason it hold a degree of interest this time around is actually not Svenonius so much as its sense of urgency in musicianship and the sometimes creative structure of these musical arrangements. Yet, that also means the album does not leave the listener with much to remember.
Ending with the literally-named “Outro” one has the feeling that the record has a nagging feeling of afterthought. Everything that should be present to make it something memorable feels too hollow and oblivious. Even years later, Nation Of Ulysses still feels so very missed after a listen to this album that sadly misses its creative zenith by a mile… or two. - Nick Schwab
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