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Flashback Review: Urge Overkill’s Saturation (1993)

With superb style and sound, Urge Overkill have left their mark on the music world.

51g7pgsyylChicago based alt rock band, Urge Overkill came onto the scene  with a bang back in 1985. Despite their seemly nonchalant disposition as a unit, this group was certainly not lacking in determination. Their collective gaze was always on the prize, stardom.

Saturation was released January 1, 1993 after Urge Overkill switched over from their previous indie label, Touch & Go, to a major label, Geffen Records. While the move had mixed reactions from the band’s fanbase, that didn’t stop them from giving this album everything they had.

Saturation kicks things off with “Sister Havana,” the track that really catapulted the band to the next level in their rise to the top. It’s not difficult to see why this song was, and still is, such a hit with dedicated fans and new listeners alike. The delayed, ambient opening adds a hint of suspense before things really kick into high gear. Not only does this song carry some serious passion with its vocals and heart-thumping beat, but it also features one of the most wicked guitar riffs out there. At a glance “Sister Havana” seem lighthearted, and even a little funny, with tongue-in-cheek verses and an undeniably catchy melody.

“Come around to my way of thinkin’
Don’t you want to, want to get along?
Everyday just like a vacation with you
When I’m watchin’ you and Fidel Castro in the sand, kissin’!”

However, at a closer glance, the track seems to be a thinly coded message of resistance to the Cuban People, urging them to rise up against the communist powers in place.

“Positive Bleeding” is an uplifting song with a deceptively dark title. While the concept of “[bleeding] when [you] want to bleed,” may seem gory and morbid, it’s actually a metaphor for taking control of one’s own life, and dealing with their pain in a way they see fit. Powerful and poetic, it’s hard not to feel at least a little energized after listening to this track.

By the time “Crackbabies” rolls around it’s become apparent that mind-blowing guitar parts are a staple of Urge Overkill’s sound. Intense and dark with a hint of desperation, this haunting track works its way inside of you. It really is hard to get enough of.

“Heaven 90210” has a more mellow vibe, with melodic guitar, a steady beat, and an all-around warm vibe that’s pleasant to the ears and soul. Saturation is a wild ride, and this track allows listeners to regather themselves and come back down to Earth in a gentle manner. A fast favorite, “Heaven 90210” has beautiful imagery, and a lot of heart.

With a sound like theirs, it only makes sense that Urge Overkill shot for the start. Saturation is not only a great album, it was also a message to their fans that despite the jump from an indie label to a major one, the band was not about to let the business change their art.

Rating: 4/5

Stream: Saturation by Urge Overkill

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