The Effigies were the first band from Chicago’s bald’n’booted brigade to gain any out-of-town recognition, and rightfully so. The quartet’s five-song debut EP (later reissued with an extra track as The Effigies EP) showcased their bold, taut, spare punk attack on real songs about adult concerns, with prophetic (for punk) metal guitar lacing through their best material, including the anthemic “Mob Clash.”
Although flat production obscured the disc’s strong points, the Effigies fuzzed up the guitar (simultaneously experimenting with acoustic) and moved it to the fore on We’re da Machine. The best songs on For Ever Grounded — a lyrically and rhythmically more diverse LP that even adds dance beats — wail with the urgency of a siren at night. Earl Letiecq’s guitar screeches like whitewalls on sodden pavement — the raw nerve that keeps the Effigies’ sound permanently on edge. Though sometimes seen as humorless and uncharismatic, the Effigies are solid and reliable.
Robert O’Connor stepped in to replace Letiecq, and the Effigies made a satisfying second album. One misguided disco-y track and a couple of wanky guitar solos aside, Fly on a Wire (which includes a cover of Joy Division’s “No Love Lost”) is an arresting LP, characterized by singer John Kezdy’s venomous delivery and the band’s punky melodicism on such tracks as “Forever, I Know” and “The Eights.”
More than any of the previous outings, Ink spotlights the Effigies’ canny command of tuneful (if not exactly hooky) postpunk songwriting. “The Sound That Moves” and “Yes!” rock like nobody’s business, and O’Connor’s edgy playing and Kezdy’s nervy shout keep everything just this side of speaker-shredding. The Effigies’ most assured and accessible work, Ink cements the group’s rep as one of Chi-town’s finest.
Remains Nonviewable, which compiles the 1981 “Body Bag” single and selected cuts from the early records, is a must for fans unable to score those rarities. Haunted Town‘s “Below the Drop,” heard in this historical context, seems as potent a punk epiphany as has emerged from the movement.
Letiecq eventually rejoined, but 1990 saw Kezdy (whose law-school sabbatical led to the band’s low profile in the late ’80s) joined in the Effigies by all three members of Bloodsport.