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The Fatal Flaws, Scragged

Album Review


Published October 1, 2008 at 5:40 a.m.


(W.C. Field Recording, CD)

Burlington’s reigning misanthropists, The Fatal Flaws, return with Scragged. Fans of gritty, bellicose no-fi shenanigans will be thrilled. Or irritated. The product of husband-and-wife duo Chris Beneke and Sasha Rodriguez, this caustic follow-up to their 2006 debut Your First Mistake is a sly, biting effort laced with dirty guitar riffs, haphazard drumming and dry wit.

Released under their own W.C. Field Recording banner, the Flaws do justice to their label’s crusty namesake, delivering 23 tracks of self-loathing — and you-loathing, and me-loathing — garage rawk that will undoubtedly make you cringe. But it will also make you shake and stomp. And, quite possibly, smile — or even laugh out loud. But don’t tell The Fatal Flaws I said that.

Beneke fires a sneering shot across our collective bow with “Those Mortal Wound Blues.” “If you were born with the blues, you were born to die,” he sings over a stomping, bluesy rock riff. He adds ominously, “If you were born with the wound, you were born to be mine.” Lovely.

A Twilight Zone-esque guitar line introduces “Shakin’ Lady Stomp,” buoyed by Rodriguez’s rudimentary drumming. Throughout the disc, her understated and slightly offbeat rhythmic efforts provide a sturdy foundation for her husband’s deceptively precise and surprisingly melodic guitar work. The result is clumsy, aggressive and charming, a perfect backdrop for Beneke’s jaded and often hysterical musings.

As dour as his wordplay may seem on the surface, like any self-respecting — or self-hating, I guess — curmudgeon, there is a roiling undercurrent of crude, incisive humor throughout that, for this writer at least, is the album’s highlight.

Consider this, from “(For ‘Sexual Position,’ Carol Said) Jaded”: “It’s a revenge of the sensitive guys / A revenge, I’m gonna poke out your eyes.”

Or “Pretty People”: “I want to hurt the pretty people. I want to hurt the pretty people . . . but first I want to fuck them.”

Or continuing on the theme, the lyrics of the following track, “Fuck Bait”: “Fuck bait . . . Fuck bait . . . Fuck bait. Fuckbaitfuckbaitfuckbait” . . . you get the idea.

Beneke’s wry wordsmithing is not all of the juvenile variety — some of it is also incredibly juvenile! But, by and large, his salty ruminations on life, love, wretchedness and occasionally happiness are often as poignant as those from melancholy singer-songwriter types.

Misery loves company. So, catch The Fatal Flaws as they host their monthly Foofarawk series this Saturday at Burlington’s Radio Bean.