Because of its lighthearted approach and riffy goodtime vibes it would be easy to gloss over Droids Attack’s third full-length, Must Destroy (Crustacean Records), as a kind of joke release. Song titles like “The Great Wall of ‘Gina,” “Astro Glider,” “The Unforgiven 4” and “Koko Beware,” while hilarious, support the position. But there’s more to the Madison, Wisconsin trio than goofy lyrics and a robot mascot (although, in many cases, that would probably be enough). They seriously rock.
Guitarist/vocalist Brad Van would seem to be leading the charge, and while one can pick out influences from Melvins to Helmet to High on Fire in his playing, never so specifically as to make the songs redundant. At the same time, they never reach so far beyond the stoner milieu as to be unfamiliar, which winds up adding to the accessibility of Must Destroy. In a way, the party atmosphere is a big part of what helps distinguish Droids Attack, but if one were to experience the album without the artwork, titles or any other context, the music would still stand up. The rhythm section of bassist Nate Bush and drummer Tony Brungraber is a big part of why. Not only do they keep up with Van’s riffing, but they add flavor and personality to the songs. Brungraber’s drums could have stood to be a little higher in the final mix, but even from hearing them as they are, it’s clear the complexity of his playing is an essential element to making these songs work.
The songs are filled out to varying degrees by Tim Thompson’s keyboard work, usually keeping to an organ sound that’s a well-established component of the classic stoner rock feel. I keep hearing Suplecs in “The Arcade Bully,” but that might just be coincidence. The title track which follows immediately is the album centerpiece but not necessarily the highlight. It’s up there, definitely, but it’s hard to discount the later upped aggression of “The Crisis in the City (It’s Increasing)” or the memorable instrumental finale of “Astro Glider,” on which Thompson’s keys come to the fore.
In some ways it feels like by giving it a close reading I’m taking the piss out of Must Destroy, missing the point somehow, and to that end, I’ll keep it (relatively) short. What Droids Attack have on their third album is a successful meshing of solid, thick riff rock with an engaging, friendly mood. I don’t know if I’d vote them for president, but I’d definitely have a beer with these dudes, even if I had to go to cold-ass Wisconsin to do it. In the meantime, drinking by myself and listening to Must Destroy will do just fine. Recommended for anyone not afraid of enjoying themselves.Crustacean, Droids Attack, Madison, Wisconsin