Review: Filter – The Sun Comes Out Tonight

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Trailer music, fuckin’ the party up-in. Booming industrial guitars with pub rock sensibilities. Frayed tenderness furnished with vocoders when it isn’t adorned with Pro Tools mechanics. And much of the music hews closely to post-grunge, which was a cultural molehill best left relegated to the record collections of 30-and-ups. Project-leader (“Filter isn’t a band, it’s a project”) Richard Patrick always mercifully eschewed the cock-rock tendencies of his industrial cohort Trent Reznor. He also puts emphasis on accessibility, however emotionally unstable, with linear pop structures and noise as accessory instead of sonic centrepiece.

Patrick recently explained that he intended The Sun Comes Out Tonight to be “something that was exactly like Short Bus but done in today’s world with today’s technology.” In that regard, the new record is a triumph. Second track “What Do You Say” is a cover of “Hey Man, Nice Shot” with the original’s coy, sinister lyrics replaced with forgettable dead freight: “Hey hey, what do you say? / It doesn’t really matter ’cause it’s all the same”. Had this album been released instead of Short Bus back in ’95 history would’ve proceeded identically.

Patrick’s voice is still at the forefront of the songs, much to their credit. His is one of the best in all of angst-rock. The production is expectedly crisp and balanced, making the quiet-loud super quiet and super loud respectively. The opener, the catchy “We Hate It When You Get What You Want” and the hook-laden rawker “It’s Got to Be Right Now” form the twin peaks of The Sun Comes Out Tonight. The rest is the same beefy boom-crash they’ve been peddling for years. There’s even “Surprise” and “First You Break It” to satisfy the fans who jumped on board with the band’s saccharine crossover hit “Take a Picture”.

For an album that was meant to be a product of “today’s technology,” the sonics of The Sun Comes Out Tonight are no different from the Filter of Short Bus. The album has the same arpeggiated guitar riffs and distilled white noise as the early output. And yet I find it unusually difficult to dislike this record. There’s a sense of earnestness without desperation on this album. Even the neutered alt-rock of “This Finger’s For You” is catchy and reeks of…hell, passion. You can’t hate it. Perhaps because unlike Reznor, Patrick’s unleashing his emotions instead of trying to command yours, unlike Jourgensen, he seeks to express instead of shock and unlike Ogre, he’s not a stick-up-the-ass purist.

That said, he’s still not as fun as KMFDM. (Wind-Up Records)

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I'm Greg. Have pencil. Will travel.