Veterans of the first neo-garage-rock revival of the mid-'80s, the Cynics' had early records that were snarling psych-pop rave-ups and slew forgotten contemporaries such as the Fuzztones and Marshmallow Overcoat when it came to songwriting. Then, in 1990, the Cynics really flicked the kill switch with the supremely loud and decidedly super-fuzzed Rock'n'Roll, an album that simultaneously slammed the coffin lid on the cartoonish '60s revival in the '80s and laid out the punkier direction taken by garage bands for the next decade.
The band's next three records, though still solid, lacked the sonic excitement of Rock'n'Roll. So, a few half-baked breakups and a seven-year wait later, the new Cynics release, Living Is the Best Revenge (Get Hip), is not just a comeback surprise, but one of the best records of the year. Blasted out in just three days, the songs are catchier, tighter, and more frantically produced (with knob-twisting assistance from trash-rock producer Tim Kerr) than they've been in years.
And the band's live show hasn't diminished. Singer Michael Kastelic still makes a tambourine look tough by bloodying up his forearm with it, and when guitarist Gregg Kostelich hits the fuzz pedal, it'll double the bubbles in your beer. The Cynics are a gas in more ways than one.