Fuck Knights: Oh-Oh (Munster Records)

CD Review

Andy Warhol's resounding declaration to the world of fine art was that, in fact, there's nothing wrong with a perfect reproduction, provided one chooses the source material wisely. This, too, may be Fuck Knights' legacy in Twin Cities music—one could easily turn a nose skyward at their patent refusal to twist the garage-rock tropes that motor them, but it would be a costly act of snobbery, and woe be he who lets the Fuck Knights' primordially appealing work go unheard for such petty criticisms. The three-piece outfit's most recent EP, Oh-Oh, is out now on Munster records, and it's a four-song release that frames the Fuck Knights' sound magnificently, one of those all-too-rare releases that, on first listen, imparts an indelible and accurate impression of the band behind it. Like the Fuck Knights themselves, Oh-Oh is chaos controlled, a raw gob of rock that tests the studio monitor without breaking it. You might see every chord and moaned chorus coming a mile away, but Oh-Oh's production is faithful to Fuck Knights' over-amped, roughshod playbook, and the album leaves their chops bruised, filthy, but standing and smiling, cracked teeth and all.

As has been the case for the last year of Fuck Knights' live presence, "Kristina!" is the standout track, a fulcrum by which the rest of the band's work seems to wildly swing. Its brevity, its decibel count, and the speed with which the song steams from the first chord to the last are not only a perfect print of 1960s garage rock but a painstaking self-portrait of a band on a suicidal joyride. Title track "Oh-Oh" and "Mod Kilos" burn a bit more slowly, the former eschewing breakneck tempo for a menacing swagger and the latter feeling, after the preceding three tracks, perhaps a bit predictable in its revelry of count-offs and jags of guitar soloing, even as it hangs a hard left in its final minutes. But this is the Fuck Knights at their finest and most elemental, and Oh-Oh's built-for-speed spirit imbues these simple songs with an urgency that demands multiple spins.

If there is a nagging weakness to Oh-Oh, it's the haunting familiarity of the material. It's not simply that Fuck Knights color so dutifully within the lines (the band's primary virtue, and vice). The songs here have been staples of Fuck Knights' performing life for months and months, and though Oh-Oh showcases their strongest work, we've already memorized these songs note for note. The insertion of a saxophone into these battle hymns is a welcome twist, and their resurgence on a coveted rock label is certainly relevant, but a band as happily derivative as Fuck Knights can only prevail with industry and diligence. So buy Oh-Oh, and cross your fingers that this stinging jab is setting up a haymaker somewhere up the road.

 
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