With all the turmoil and tragedy surrounding his family, it's no wonder Meat Puppets leader Curt Kirkwood fled Arizona to make a fresh start in Austin, TX. Breaking with the past, Kirkwood assembled a new quartet version of the Meat Puppets, featuring two former members of the Austin band Pariah. As presented on Golden Lies, the new Puppets are a surprisingly heavy, hard-rocking outfit, turning in one of the loudest records in the group's catalog. It's also one of the best-produced, boasting a thick, full, shiny sound. Some of the quirkier, more freewheeling edges of the old Puppets have been sanded off -- there's very little of Kirkwood's vaunted country influence here, and the record sometimes feels a little too uniform when the inevitable comparisons to the Pups of yesteryear are made. But really, many individual moments work very well, and it's encouraging to hear Kirkwood returning to form. Songs like "I Quit," "You Love Me," and "Endless Wave" have that classic airy Pups feel, but with an added jolt of intensity supplied by the new band. Not everything on the record works; some of the lyrics try a little too hard for the trippy surrealism that's become Kirkwood's hallmark, and a few songs feature a sort of half-rapped speak-sing that comes off as awkward. Golden Lies doesn't quite recapture the glory of the Puppets' SST years, or the pop breakthrough of Too High to Die, but its very existence is a triumphant achievement. ~~ Steve Huey
trACks:- Intro - Armed And Stupid - I Quit - Lamp - Hercules - Batwing - Take Off Your Clothes - You Love Me - Pieces of Me - Push The Button - Tarantula - Endless Wave - Wipeout - Fat Boy Fat Requiem.