St. Arkansas

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
For a beast that first reared its head before anyone had even come up with the catch phrase "punk rock," Pere Ubu is still mighty fierce. Thanks in large part to the alternately quizzical and gripping tone of inimitable frontman David Thomas -- he of the behemoth wail and improbably delicate trill -- the 27-year-old Cleveland combo has never lost the ability to propel listeners into a parallel universe of its own creation. At its best, Ubu's music is both foreboding and beckoning, fearsome and handsome -- characteristics that merge winningly on songs such as the eerily creeping "Slow Walking Daddy," which recalls the more diffuse moments their classic 1978 release Dub ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
For a beast that first reared its head before anyone had even come up with the catch phrase "punk rock," Pere Ubu is still mighty fierce. Thanks in large part to the alternately quizzical and gripping tone of inimitable frontman David Thomas -- he of the behemoth wail and improbably delicate trill -- the 27-year-old Cleveland combo has never lost the ability to propel listeners into a parallel universe of its own creation. At its best, Ubu's music is both foreboding and beckoning, fearsome and handsome -- characteristics that merge winningly on songs such as the eerily creeping "Slow Walking Daddy," which recalls the more diffuse moments their classic 1978 release Dub Housing. Most of St. Arkansas, however, is drawn in starker hues, the tunes outlined sharply by the guitars of Tom Herman and Jim Jones, as well as the distinctly outré synth daubings laid down by Robert Wheeler. The musicians strap themselves in for a breakneck run through the fretful "The Fevered Dream of Hernando de Soto" and dangle recklessly from the edge on the sprawling nine-minute closer "Dark." Many moons ago, Thomas coined the phrase "avant-garage" to describe Pere Ubu: Seldom has one of the band's albums worn that badge more proudly.
All Music Guide - Robert L. Doerschuk
No band has sustained as much alt-credibility as long as Pere Ubu. While St. Arkansas doesn't divert from the paths the bandmembers have already traveled, it's worth remembering that these guys started this trip 27 years prior to this album, and noting as well that their lyrical and musical creativity is undiminished by time. Recorded dry, with a boxlike ambience, David Thomas's vocals gnarl like a weed, repulsive yet irresistible, in a garden of broken glass. While the band scatters shards of pointed sound around him, Thomas tells cryptic, twisted tales; on "Slow Walking Daddy" his strangled bleat transplants a Willy Loman character into shadows of vague but looming doom. For the song "Hell" he switches to a smoky mumble and reflects, with odd detachment, on finding himself in perdition -- a place depicted musically by a muffled, lurching drum motif, some keyboard wheezes, and a distant out of tune piano. The closing track, "Dark," wraps up the theme of the album -- tragic self-delusion in a world filled with indifference; Thomas' delivery of the key line, a hopeless mantra to "AM radio," is a masterful bit of expression. On each track he presents himself as more of an actor or a performance artist than a singer, an assumption of identity that would challenge almost any band's approach to accompaniment. In this sense, as well as in his poetic integrity and superb connection to his musicians, and in the dark majesty of his declamation, Thomas casts a dangerous spell with St. Arkansas and reaffirms his stature as a peer of Tom Waits.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/18/2002
  • Label: Cooking Vinyl
  • UPC: 711297010824
  • Catalog Number: 108
  • Sales rank: 61,945

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Pere Ubu Primary Artist
Technical Credits
David Thomas Audio Production
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