What Handsomebeast does is a type of music that can go very wrong very quickly if it's not handled with care and consideration; kind of like nuclear power or anal sex. They are a funk-rock band, and funk in rock too often leads to delusions of stank that are, to put it generously, highly undeserved.
Well, Handsomebeast's new EP, Sexy Face Reaction Time, handles the funk like a champ and it allows their music room to move and groove admirably. The result is a five-song collection that is playful and exciting, and not afraid to go all over the place while standing firmly on its incredible rhythm section.
I read once where the secret to Drunken Boxing was that the off-center movements were only effective because they were launched from a secretly solid balance. That's how I would describe a Handsomebeast song; the majestic flailing of a band that knows exactly what they're doing but want you to think they're out of control.
Sort of in opposition to that the album comes out with "Intruder Alert". It's arguably the "safest" song on the record and what I would call the most stereotypical representation of Handsomebeast's sound. It's got a pop rock rush approach locals usually see in Keeton Coffman projects (and I mean that definitely as a compliment), though it does pull out a shake and swing bass solo that wiggles it out into a more notorious form. It's a solid if not overly imaginative introduction.
"Exotic Lumberjack" is where things really start cooking it will peel the Otterbox off your phone. It's just a good funk tune that picks up and drops down in all the right places, sort of like a less sinister Electric Six. Not as much devilish darkness but they make up for it by injecting so much sexy talk that I'm pretty sure I owe them $2.99 a minute just for listening to it. The energy is high, but I think it's the sheer glory of the group's synchronicity that really makes the song glow. Every note feels perfectly placed.
Now there are some places on Sexy Face Reaction Time that I sort of tuned out, and maybe that's not fair. The problem is that Handsomebeast is bringing us a really good example of music that other bands have kind of ruined, and it's hard to love them without thinking of the people who burned us before.
Take "Torn," for instance. It's more rap than funk for the most part, but it's, well...it's 311 rap. It's Jason Mraz with his rappy acoustic sort of raps. It's all those bands in the '90s that were influenced big-time by Faith No More's Epic and went on to start bands that rhyme with "gimp this kit" rap. Now, Handsomebeast is way, way, way better at that style. I cannot stress enough how great "Torn" as a standalone song is, but it's a direction I caution the band to use sparingly as it's no good being kings of a musical wasteland.
From start to finish, Sexy Face Reaction Time has the ability to kick your ass, a fine bit of funk-rock in a world where that's a rare crop.
Handsomebeast releases Sexy Face Reaction Time on Saturday, April 8 at Wonky Power Live, 3534 Navigation Blvd., with special guests Gio Chamba, Soul Creatures and Fox Parlor.
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