Veruca Salt was one of the greatest rock soap operas since Fleetwood Mack or Husker Du, as longtime friends Louise Post and Nina Gordon had a bitter falling out over stolen boyfriends, stabbed backs, and general unpleasantness. Gordon set out on a solo career, while Post dug in her heels, retained the Veruca Salt name, assembled a new band, and recorded the third Veruca album, 2000's Resolver. The friendship with Gordon wasn't the only severed relationship Post endured between 1997's Eight Arms to Hold You and Resolver -- She also broke up with Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl. Now, the title of the record may suggest that she's trying to resolve her feelings toward these breakups, but the album plays as relentless, unmitigated stream of bile. Never once does Post let up her attack on Gordon and Grohl, except for when it loses a little focus and becomes a vicious attack on the world in general. All of this is set to music that's halfway between American Thighs and Blow it Out Your Ass and completely dated in 2000. By any conventional yardstick, this does not result in a good album, but it surely is a fascinating listen. There's something unintentionally strange and perverse about the record, like being assaulted by a half-forgotten, half-drunken acquaintance, intent of filling you in on every single excruciating detail of their miserable life -- at top volume, no less.
Veruca Salt circulated through the late-'90s barrage of one-hit alt-rock bands with the single "Seether," and the number of critics placing bets in favor of the band's longevity was miniscule. But upon the departure of member Nina Gordon, lead singer Louise Post revamped the group, and Resolver
beat the odds. The album follows the lead of fellow Chicagoans the Smashing Pumpkins with its monstrous guitars squalling against an explosive rhythm section. This tsunami of sound finds a strange bedfellow with Post's vocals. Immediately she seems a sweet, fuzzy urchin, but her abrasive, sexually charged lyrics and grunge-suited scream reveal a wildly rabid kitten with piercing claws and enormous teeth. Resolver
's combination of eerie Pixies-influenced aggression ("Used to Know Her") and Billy Corgan bombast ("Born Entertainer") makes for a supremely satisfying head bang. Best of all, the new and resoundingly improved Veruca Salt have developed a penchant for slightly quieter songs like "Disconnected," where Post's utterly un
seething, almost exhausted voice carves a wide space between unproduced drums and orchestral instrumentation, resulting in a moment of fierce beauty. --Beth Massa