By Dr. Abner Mality

Quite off the beaten path for both me and Wormwood is this Detroit rock act of some renown. Having basically gotten "Zodiac" unasked for in a promo package containing another band I wound up totally uninterested in, I had absolutely no expectations or preconceptions sliding it in the ol' CD player. Result: I was quite entertained by this sardonically sarcastic amalgamation of funk, punk, new wave and pop.

The record starts like a house on fire. One thing I always appreciate is high energy and boy, this has it in spades. At least in the beginning of the record. Amped up with sassy sax and piano, "After Hours" is highly caffeinated rock. Dick Valentine's rich vocals are dripping with absurdity and irony. Although the music has a high dose of funkiness, there's always a cutting edge, almost punky feeling as well. "American Cheese", "Clusterfuck!" and "Countdown to the Countdown" are all compelling reasons for shakin' it and breakin' it on the dancefloor. Occasionally there are silly falsetto vocals ("I Am A Song") that just sound too sel-consciously "ironic" to me but its tolerable. Around the mid-point of the album, the energy noticably starts to drop, although "It Ain't Punk Rock" and "Love Song For Myself" are amusing slices of hard-edged pop. The cover of The Spinner's "Rubberband Man'" tickled me because, believe it or not, I was a huge fan of the tune when my age was in single digits.

Unfortunately, the album ends with the two weakest tracks, definitely giving us another album that starts strong and ends weak. But I certainly do not mind a good dose of funky rock with brains occasionally and "Zodiac" fit that need pretty well.