Creeper Lagoon

Take Back the Universe (And Give Me Yesterday) (DreamWorks)

If it's true that the greatest art comes from tension and conflict, Take Back the Universe (And Give Me Yesterday), Creeper Lagoon's latest album, is one bad-ass piece of work. Since being named Best New Artist of 1998 in Spin magazine for its full-length debut I Become Small and Go, Creeper Lagoon has toured all over the country, playing with an impossible range of artists that includes Elliott Smith, Archers of Loaf, Beck, and the Dandy Warhols. It also lost its bass player and recorded, scrapped, and re-recorded most of the material on this album as a result. At the heart of Creeper Lagoon's sound is an artsy and muscular pop core that was only hinted at on last year's EP "Watering Ghost Garden" and is even more thoroughly explored here than on its debut. There are any number of pop/rock cross-currents informing Creeper's sonic presentation, from the World Party nods on "Dead Man Saloon" and the first generation Beatlisms on "Under the Tracks" to the XTC flourishes in "Hey Sister" and the Bowie atmospherics of "Lover's Leap."

The beauty of Creeper Lagoon's alternating panic/passive pop is that it draws on the great history of the genre without outright pilfering, preferring to incorporate interesting bits of influence into the core sound that it has already solidly established. The twin guitars of Ian Sefchick and Sharky Laguana ring in the ears and stick in the viscera with an ease and grace that is characteristic of all the best rock and roll guitar duos, and always in the service of cleverly conceived and executed hooks and phrases. If internal strife causes Creeper Lagoon to respond with work like Take Back the Universe (And Give Me Yesterday), long may the turmoil reign.