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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ninety Pound Wuss -- Short Hand Operation


Man, I hate to write my last Ninety Pound Wuss review with a negative bent, but Short Hand Operation is a bit of a disappointment. Frontman, Jeff Bettger aka "Jeff Suffering," promised at the album's release that it is "quite possibly…the best record I'll ever record." That's an unfortunate statement that can generally only come from someone who is young and naive. Short Hand Operation isn't even the best record that Ninety Pound Wuss ever recorded.
Referencing my previous 90lbWuss review, an album's cover can be revealing. In this case, the cover is an unmemorable garble of words, representing a largely unmemorable album. Short Hand Operation offers a lot of uninteresting, nearly mid-tempo songs--at least mid-tempo for 90's punk and Ninety Pound Wuss. Very little stands out from a musical perspective, as it seems the band have largely abandoned the variety found in their sopohmore album, Where Meager Die of Self Interest. That previous album was unpredictable, going from light-speed punk, to sludgy grooves, to hardcore face-breakers. Despite Suffering's newfound interest in keyboards, everything on Short Hand Operation feels by-the-numbers...
Except, "Nostalgia," a lovely oddity that features a melodically sung chorus(!), and the wistful instrumental "It Seems So Far Away," which evokes exactly the feeling of its title. These two songs run back-to-back, an island of aural pleasure surrounded by a sea of musical gray. There's a cool lyrical through-line of longing in Short Hand Operation, with the line "it seems so far away," repeated in different places, but this makes little difference when the listener is bored to tears.
I'm glad that Bettger has stuck to his convictions throughout the years (which any google search will reveal), but I hope he's changed his mind on at least this: He's done better than Short Hand Operation.

1999 Tooth & Nail Records
1. Short Hand Operation 3:09
2. Fulfilled 4:26
3. Torment In Tension 3:14
4. Outbreak 2:21
5. Nostalgia 4:33
6. It Seems So Far Away 4:24
7. Nolo Contendre 3:01
8. Hope 2:35
9. Letting Loose 2:51
10. Not Like Me 1:53
11. Intermediate Laceration 4:59
12. What I Am 3:39
13. Second Stage Of Adolescence 3:06
14. At The End Of It All 3:48

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