Mel Gibson & the Pants: Sea vs. Shining Sea

Mel Gibson & the Pants
Sea vs. Shining Sea
Totally Gross National Product

Man, iTunes' "genre" tag is gonna hate you for this one. Even a half-ass listen to Sea vs. Shining Sea, Mel Gibson & the Pants' third (or fourth) album, will reveal a lot of intricate stylistic absorption: electronic clamors that range from Kompakt glitch-drone to nic-fit Stereolab, stadium-rock/b-boy low-end that covers towering grain elevators with (physical) graffiti, and that specific kind of post-Interpol newer-wave indie guitar that 99 percent of your typical buzz bands aim for and 2 percent (MG+TP guitarist Riley Hartnet included) actually give resonance.

It reads like a mess, but it's not self-conscious pile-up genre-hopping for its own sake. Get to the point where you're listening with your entire ass and it'll turn out that Sea vs. Shining Sea is its own stylistic entity, albeit one that fits in well with the Twin Cities' punk-electro-etcetera-rap scene. Kill the Vultures' Crescent Moon and Doomtree members Sims, Mictlan, and Dessa all sound at home in their guest spots, from the art-punk "Dead Baby Joke" to the indie-crunk "Stress Fracture" (chorus: "Crush, kill, destroy, stress"). By the time you get to "Spurs of Steel" (which sounds like Booker T. & the M.G.'s version of "Hang 'Em High" getting into a shouting match with Big Black) it seems less like a country-feel gimmick than an appropriate sidestep. Some of the vocals sound a bit like sloganeering, but the thing about slogans is that they're direct and evocative and fun to shout along with; J.R. Sanders elicits comparison to André 3000 at points (especially the tense MPLiens funk of "That Ain't a Knife") but his direct intentions work well with a band that doesn't concede anything: "So much to burn," he spits on "Don't Believe the Hype Man," "so little time."