Some people work through their issues by screaming into pillows. Louise Post screams into microphones. And Post, the only original member of Veruca Salt playing on "Resolver," has some issues to, well, resolve. One
is the departure of Nina Gordon, her former co-guitarist and co-vocalist in the Chicago band best known for the '94 alternative rock hit "Seether." According to interviews, the duo's creative relationship stemmed from an intense and tumultuous friendship. Not surprisingly, the split reverberates across Post's new lyrics. "This couldn't get any
better," she whoops on "Born Entertainer." "She couldn't get it, so fuck her." That's not the last we'll hear about that anonymous "her."
Post also has some former romances to deconstruct. On "Disconnected," she sighs that it's "kind of scary when your lover leaves you for the future." She's not sure why she's mired in the past, but it doesn't help
that the ballad sounds exactly like the slow parts of Madonna's "Like a Prayer." In fact, throughout "Resolver," Post's music underscores both her angst and her tendency to stare backward. For most of the album, she and her new bandmates -- bassist/vocalist Suzanne Sokal, drummer Jimmy Madla and guitarist Stephen Fitzpatrick -- play formulaic alt-rock laced with tough, retro-sounding metallic riffs; you can almost imagine Post donning a bad-girl leather jacket and revving a big motorcycle. Those looking for the airy, crunchy pop of "Seether" will only get a few
glimpses of it, such as on the dizzying "Best You Can Get."
With such uninspiring music it's Post's lyrics -- relentlessly unsparing and delivered with a caustic shout -- that stand out. On the album's harshest
song, "Used To Know Her," Post yells eulogies to a dead friendship ("I used to need her ... we used to sing") and a former affair ("I used to justify him lying to my face with my permission"). Through a din of guitars, she concludes that she's over both relationships, repeating "it just doesn't matter" like a mantra. If she's telling the truth, she won't have much to sing about on her next record.
Several other tracks feature jabs at an unnamed "you." A sampling: "You're officially dead/you don't have a heart" ("Officially Dead"); "You've got enemies everywhere" ("Wet Suit"); "Don't blame me for sinking the ship/you're a hopeless liar and a hypocrite" ("Only You Know").
But despite all the seething, "Resolver" isn't entirely a retrospective. "Born Entertainer" is an energetic love letter to rocking out onstage; it only slows down for a passage that rips off Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me." A few other tracks deal with passion in the here and now, which isn't without its complications. "If I could have my way, I'd chain you down and make you stay," sings Post on the peppy "Yeah Man."
The strange thing is that after a record full of negative catharsis, Post tears apart her shtick with one line: "You're a cynic; I'm an optimist." She's still ripping on a faceless meanie, but if "Resolver" is portraying a half-full glass, you have to worry about what happens when it's empty.