Blue Up?

  • Blue Up?
  • Cake and Eat It (Catacombs) 1992 
  • Spool Forka Dish (Columbia) 1995 

I’ll take “Anything but Muzak” for 200, Alex. Three brash and colorful young rock women from Minneapolis? Who are…Babes in Toyland? Darn. I thought I had that one.

If the Babes were leather-coated tenth-graders who magic-markered Iggy Pop’s name on their backpacks and read Maximumrocknroll, Rachael Olson — who sings, plays guitar and writes the songs for the Blue Up? — must have been more of the feline Kate Bush/Salvador Dali type. Nearly a decade after the band’s 12-inch debut, three-fourths of the original lineup took a major-label flyer on Spool Forka Dish, which attempts a rapprochement between a flip indie attitude, a rarefied sense of psychedelia and the potentially precious artiness of Tori Amos. As produced by former Prince drummer Bobby Z, the kitchen sink shifts blithely from small-scale acoustic folkiness (“Feel Me Dying,” “Beautiful Hysterical”) to punk screaming (“Come Alive,” “Exhibitionist”) to panoramic ambient house dreams (“Capture This”) to Heart-like rock grandiosity (“Shine,” “Breathe You Out”) to out-and-out nonsense (“H. Sidakr of Loops,” which — as might be guessed from the reverse title — is the album played backward). Materially, Rachael is not above the silly title-naming of “Blasting XTC,” but she’s also capable of the feminist freedom declaration of “Exhibitionist” and the whimsical reveries of “Spoons for Seven.” All of which makes for an inconsistent, not always pleasant but invariably attention-getting frolic in a fascinating artist’s uncommon world. And how often does a 29-year-old urge listeners to “go buy S.F. Sorrow and Parachute by the Pretty Things” anymore?

[Ira Robbins]