Measles Mumps Rubella – Fantastic Success

Measles Mumps Rubella
Fantastic Success

Measles Mumps Rubella is a four piece from NYC, by way of Washington, DC. Along the way, these guys must have lost their ability to create anything musically noteworthy. That is assuming they had it in the first place, which is doubtful.

It appears as though MMR’s Robert Austin (bass), Chuck Bettis (vocals, trumpet), Ryan Hicks (drums), and Mark Ropelewski (guitar) couldn’t decide whether to play dance, industrial, or punk, so they settled for a mediocre middle ground. The result is a hybrid that contains none of the hip-swaying vim and vigor you would expect. Instead, the tracks offered here contain a watered down, rambling mix of each.

Further dampening these tracks’ appeal is the complete lack of song structure. These are not songs so much as they are snippets culled from extensive jam sessions, almost as if the band members were playing together until they hit on something half decent, pressed the record button, and then played it out until even they were tired of it. Even Jonathan Kreinik’s studio trickery could not rescue this set. Although he tried by adding copious amounts of echo, fuzz, and feedback with very limited, if any, success. Adding insult to injury is the band’s attempt at dub vocals, which falls extremely short and ends up less as an enhancement and more as a distraction.

Even though Fantastic Success is short, with seven tracks clocking in at just under 30 minutes, you’ll be hard pressed to make it through this disc in one sitting. Unless, of course, lame industrial dance-punk is your cup of tea. The songs on Fantastic Success have no direction and are mostly just driving drum beat dirges with fuzzed out bass licks and echoey strains of guitars running throughout. If you need a frame of reference, think Devo with indie guitars instead of keyboards, live drumming instead of machine beats, and without any of the quirky pop smarts. Bettis’ vocals are also eerily similar to Devo’s only without any charm, and they often can’t be heard over the abrasive, industrial noise.

If there are highlights, the title track is one that somehow eschews the aimless clatter of the rest of the disc and stands out as a danceable tune with a cool, poppy bass lick, excellent guitar work, and tolerable vocals. The other is the closer “Nice Hollow Bodies” that, although containing some annoying thumping drums, it also is a less abrasive, more expansive and experimental track reminiscent of very early Delerium. Unfortunately, most people won’t get to hear this track, unless they use the skip button, since it comes after 25 minutes of lame industrial dance-punk.