Music critics and feckless college kids (more on them later) continue to have orgasms over this mess, presumably informed by the same if-it’s-dull-and-dry-it-must-be-deep sensibility that showers accolades on such tedium-fests as Springsteen, the Clash, and Yo La Tengo.

It’s difficult to decide where to begin attacking the record. The tempos plod and the songs meander aimlessly and endlessly. All of which is very progressive and groundbreaking — if your previous idea of musical sophistication was Minor Threat, or perhaps Sloan — precisely why this middlebrow wankery is revered so highly by the lookalike Salvation Army-shopping, gas-station-attendant-chic middlebrow wankers who clog the streets of my hometown. The already dated grunge-tone guitars are made to repeat the same drab finger exercises indefinitely in such a manner that the listener is forced to focus on the long-winded, drippy high school poetry (“. . . Fill your pockets with the dust of the memories that rises from the shoes on my feet . . . Wash yourself in your tears and build your church on the strength of your faith.” Blecch.) delivered in a ‘voice’ that alternates between an expressionless mumble and a feeble prepubescent whine. Oh, but Slint brought 7/8 into the vocabulary of alt-rock time signatures! Yeah, played so slowly and so metronomically that the average four-year old could be trained to do better.

The band manage to reel in their self-indulgence somewhat for the last song, “Good Morning, Captain,” providing the only moment on the record with the remotest musical value. Good God, there’s almost a groove! A sense of direction even! The harmonics at the end border on being interesting. And what effect is accomplished? A sappy tearjerker, that’s what. The same schmaltzy heartrending aimed for by the Spice Girls and Steven Spielberg. “I miss you” he screams over and over. Didn’t I see something like that at the end of _Swing Kids_?

“Better than Tortoise” is the best that can be said for this pretentious trash.