“Straight”/”The Creature in Disguise”
Their pad is very messy, they got whiskers on their chin, they’re gone on powerpop music, and they always play to win. Or so the A-side tries to convey, though these L.A. formalists clearly mean to beg the straightness question merely by raising it.
In their first songs to surface since their worthy 2000 debut album, they pound and swing the boogie harder and sweeter than ever; both tracks would fit real well on Cheap Trick’s All Shook Up, so Tsar’s guitars could offer quite the machismo lesson to Weezer, whose T-shirts their “Tsar the Rock Group” slogan recalls.
Even more blatant: quotes/references to “Pretty Vacant,” “Bat Out of Hell,” and “I’m Straight” by the Modern Lovers, who meant the word differently. Then, on an almost-as-flawless flip side alluding to adolescent bodies metamorphosing monster-like, “My Generation,” the Move’s Shazam, and B?C’s “Godzilla.” Or maybe the Dolls’ “Frankenstein.” Or Edgar Winter’s.
Do the crossword puzzle yourself for once, bucko.
– Chuck Eddy, Village Voice, Singles Again, January 28 – February 3, 2004