If Barry White did a record with Al Jourgensen it might sound something like Heartbeats and Brainwaves, the eighth studio album from Electric Six.
This is the first time we've come into contact with the band, having only been aware of them vaguely from their song "Gay Bar" and the fact that Jack White did some vocal work with them under a pseudonym. Nonetheless, when Metropolis Records sends us a record we perk up. All goths do.
Describing E6's music isn't easy, but we'll give it a shot anyway. There is something both sinister and hilarious about it. Dick Valentine never lets an opportunity to sound like Satan go by, and burning above the new wave synth and modern rock thrum of the distorted guitars, it can be a powerful effect. Right off the bat they dive into "Psychic Vision" with threats, surreal metaphors, and clever word plays that are half-brilliant, half-eyerollingly punny.
We've been listening to the Legendary Pink Dots far too long to let bizarre song titles and insane private jokes detract us from the listening experience. If E6 wants to write a tune called "French Bacon" we're not going to give them a hard time about it. Whatever place Valentine and Johnny Nashinal were when they we penning the tune is a place we've never been too, but hell, the postcard they've sent us kicks ass and the track is high-energy dance magic.
Our favorite moments from the record are when E6 manages to make their mix of spook synth, funk style, and rock power equal out. When that happens you get something like "Intergalactic Version" that has all the infectiousness of a Polyphonic Spree tune mixed with the depth and poetry of Depeche Mode.
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Occasionally the album dips into more aggressive material, either in terms of sexual conquest or in terms of the iron fist they seem to want to rule the world with. It works well on "Bleed for the Artist" which plays like the opening song in a musical based on Lovecraft's Egyptian-themed stories. However, on something like "Food Dog" the friction turns somewhat abrasive and just slightly adolescent, like sex with someone who learned everything they know from pornography.
It's very clear that E6 feels no need of a genre or a label, and putting them in the box probably isn't worth the time it would take to build one. If you're one of those people out there listening to Kesha and Katy Perry enjoying the dirty, naughty image they're overselling then we highly recommend Heartbeats and Brainwaves to you as something much more organic and healthy for you. It's the same sins, but there's a lot less processed crap floating around in it. More meat and less lips and assholes.
On the other hand, if you actually have musical taste then we think you'd also get a kick out of E6's latest efforts. It's love songs for mentally disturbed people, and that always makes for a great music.
Electric Six plays Sunday October 16 at Fitzgerald's with Kitten and Commie Hilfinger. Heartbeats and Brainwaves is now available.