“Buzzards,” Margo & The Nuclear So and Sos

By Gianmarc Manzione
Originally published on Culturespill.com

“I’m never gonna break your heart, not unless I have to,” Richard Edwards howls over the booming guitars and drums of “New York City Hotel Blues,” one of Buzzards’ highest moments. Clearly Mr. Edwards and the rest of the Indianapolis gang he calls “Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos” has decided he has to, as many tracks throughout Buzzards will split your heart with the fine blade of their chamber pop hooks and blunt one-liners. Some of these songs will scratch your eyes out; others will cry them dry.

The second track, “Let’s Paint our Teeth Green,” sounds like The White Stripes banged heads with R.E.M. somewhere in the halls of the studio it was recorded in. It’s a bruising crunch of guitars and hissing percussion that drips with pop hooks. The whole gorgeous mess drives Edwards’s screeching vocals to the end of the song like a truck crash on an icy road at night, accompanied along the way by backup vocals that sound like a chorus of blackbirds.

It is only fitting that on the first line of the next track, the aforementioned “New York City Hotel Blues,” Edwards declares that it “seems like the only way out’s through the back.” By then you’re three songs deep in an album that’s dug its claws so deep into your imagination you might never get them out, and it does start to feel as if you just paid to enter a black light ballroom where the guy stamping hands at the door will only let you out for a drop of your blood. But what else would you expect of an album whose song titles span a range from hilarity to horror—“Let’s Paint out Teeth Green,” “Tiny Vampire Robot,” “Earth to Aliens: What Do You Want?”

An adrenaline that calls to mind Bloc Party or The Long Winters ignites “Freak Flight Speed,” while “Tiny Vampire Robot” dims the lights with an ethereal little ballad that brings to mind something from a Mazzy Star album you haven’t thought about since you were 15 and pissed at your parents for making you take that stud out of your tongue. Other tracks, like “Claws” or “Earth to Aliens,” channel the raw and aching beauty of Magnolia Electric Co.’s finest moments (think Songs Ohia).

But the star of the baroque production that is Buzzards happens to be its quietest moment, a spare and harrowing track called “I Do” that brings the album to a close. The stripped-bare ballad offers no more than one man’s dusty vocals and his guitar drowned in the dark matter of the song and resembles Radiohead’s devastating “Exit Music (For a Film)” from OK Computer. Although Edwards’s anguished delivery comes closer to the fragile and lowdown vocals of Jeff Tweedy than it does to the demon that Thom Yorke tickles on “Exit Music.” (And no, Richard Edwards doesn’t hope that you choke.)

Margot and friends are striking while the iron is hot, already prepared to drop their next record,  an acoustic EP called Happy Hour at Sprigg’s, on January 14th.