By Bill Wyman
Updated February 07, 1992 at 05:00 AM EST

”I have chosen my anthems/Of these I am proud,” sings front man Edward Kowalczyk on this Pennsylvania outfit’s debut, Mental Jewelry. I’ll say. The four jut-jawed rockers of Live (rhymes with ”hive,” not ”give”) have a lot on their minds, and Kowalczyk is their mouthpiece. Ian Curtis, of the British gloom-rock band Joy Division, looked at the random angst of the world and let it kill him; Live, armed with a bit more ammunition — a rifle-shot snare, a funky but driving bass, and assaultive guitar lines aplenty — is fighting back. Against what? How about the oppression of guilt (”Pain Lies on the Riverside”) or religion (”Operation Spirit”), the innate solitariness of man (”Mother Earth Is a Vicious Crowd”), and the heavy karma that comes from just being alive (”Tired of ‘Me”’). Each of these existential problems, however, is artfully reduced and set to irreproachable rock on Mental Jewelry, courtesy of producer and Talking Head Jerry Harrison. It’s sometimes wearisome (Hey, Ed, you want to say, don’t split your shorts on this), and sometimes the band’s rather severe attitudinizing is off-putting, but after a few listens nearly every song sinks into your brain nicely. Rather impressive, really. B+

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