***1/2 (out of four)
It took Middle Class Rut nearly three years to follow up their under-heralded 2010 debut “No Name No Color,” but the Sacramento duo hasn’t lost an ounce of explosiveness. Check the propulsion of “Sing While You Slave” or the fist-clenching groove of first single “Aunt Betty,” but also note the mild uptick in cohesiveness and variety on “Pick Up Your Head” as the group’s swaggering, uplifting improvement on Jane’s Addiction’s nasal attitude reaches higher levels of awesome. The title track is both a snarl and a comforting pat on the back as the band polishes its uncanny ability to both bottle aggression and release it. Not every track connects as strongly (“Police Man” feels only like more of the same, and closer “Take a Shot” settles for average). Yet the album flies by and practically begs to be re-started when it’s over. Tight and terrific.
In concert: June 25 at Subterranean
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