The album covers six songs in 40 minutes, and though it starts with its catchy title track, right away we know something is different on this album. The back and forth vocals seem to mix the cool of the first record with Reed's R&B fascination, yet the guitars crunch wildly, the keys strike like snakes, the cymbals crash like shattering glass. It's a perfect pop song couched in punk thrills, a kind of furious energy that borders on formless but never quite unravels. It sets up later moments on the record, but not all the same. We can draw lines to the guitar lunacy of 'I Heard Her Call My Name', but also to the faintly tense repetition of 'Here She Comes Now', or even the twanging of riffs and rumbling drums on 'Lady Godiva's Operation'.
These are the recognized tracks on the record, the more approachable moments wrapped around the difficult story-song 'The Gift' and the massive noise-jam of 'Sister Ray'. But it's these other moments that might better represent where the record broke from its predecessor, and how tensions within the band shaped this album. Reed and John Cale were struggling for control creatively, and Cale would leave soon after this record, but the competition inherent in the band makes them thrive here. The juxtaposition of Cale's sweet Welsh accent and gauzy singing to Reed's bleating sneer on 'Lady Godiva's Operation' is perfect. When Reed steps in halfway through the song to let us know that the nurse Cale is singing about is thinking "sweetly", it turns that word and the song in its ear, as the perfect hooks tumble into a harrowing mash-up of sounds. Reed twists the melodies in his mouth, spitting them out sideways, meshing Cale's avante-garde leanings with his own.