Picks and Pans Review: Down on the Upside
Imagine the Beatles in plaid flannel and nose rings, and you get some sense of what this latest, and finest, Soundgarden disc sounds like. Continuing what it began on 1994's Superunknown, the Seattle-based grunge band takes trenchant pop melodies that would have sounded right at home on The White Album and turns them loose in the mosh pit. Thunderous guitar crunches and lead singer Chris Cornell's soaring vocals get your heart pounding, but there is always an irresistible melodic hook that makes the volume enticing rather than distancing. Likewise, the lyrics are more personal and compelling than in the past (case in point: "Never Named," in which a confused teen complains, "I got my father's sense/ And my big brother's pants/ And I look like a man/ And I feel like an ant"). Perhaps the best thing about the Beatles' music was how it broke down the walls between genres, luring fans with varied tastes. With Down on the Upside, Soundgarden breaks the walls down and pulverizes them. (A&M)
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