Grunge as it could only be interpreted on the Sunset Strip, Red Rover is perhaps the ultimate set piece. On Agent Sparks' debut album, these Angelinos recast mid-Nineties Northwest sludge as artful noise, full of thick, rolling bass lines and sculpted squalls of feedback. The band's parallel universe imagines Cobain less idiot than savant, a welcome suggestion even if rebutted by those claiming inspiration (see: Puddle of Mudd, Fuel). Rover, however, makes no apologies.
"Face the Day" flaunts impressive brawn muscular riffs underpinned by jab-and-parry drumming. And to their credit, the bandmates aren't selective with their memory, occasionally trading bluntness for more overtly melodic arrangements (e.g., "Funny Foolish," "Beautiful True") something lost on many of grunge's more formal disciples. Despite its short running time, Red Rover accomplishes its modest aims, offering a revisionist history of a bygone genre. It's a lie almost convincing enough to believe. Jonathan Garrett
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