Margot and the Nuclear So and So's are an interesting case. They've already had what should've been their one hit wonder moment, the pitch perfect single "Jen is Bringing the Drugs." On their latest release, the group try to craft a sound about as far removed from that song as humanly possible. The question remains: can they sneak their way back into the zeitgeist of contemporary indie rock?
The answer isn't easy, but they're really trying. "Rot Gut, Domestic" opener "Disease Tobacco Free" splits the difference between mid 90s Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo, which are not exactly obscure influences. "Books About Trains" effectively apes Pavement. Ditto "Prozac Rock." Are you starting to see a pattern?
"A Journalist Falls in Love With Death Row Inmate #16" turns it all around. Working within the same sonic territory as "Jen is Bringing the Drugs," the song's strengths are the same: Deadpan, effective lyrics. "Well he said he loved me/And he cooked me dinner/He cut my lungs out/And made me feel thinner/And I'll never forget him/Now that it's over/The life that we had."
The second half of the record continues in much the same way. A few of these songs eventually start to sound like Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, notably "Ludlow Junk Hustle" and "Devil," the latter of which is the only real rocker here that isn't pastiche. The constant repeated refrain "I ain't afraid of the devil" could be laughable, instead it's haunting and effective. It's easily the best track here.
Overall, "Rot Gut, Domestic" would've made an amazing, legendary EP, but the band seem to be too afraid to be themselves for an entire record. Maybe next time.