After initially listening to this album I wanted to skewer these guys in the worst way imaginable. This Portland, Ore. threesome is musically inept; the guitar playing plods and the drumming is excruciatingly rudimentary (by comparison it makes Meg White sound like Keith Moon). The band just gets into a steady mid-tempo Glam Rock/No Wave groove that’s equal parts dancey and sloppy as front woman Ida No squeals, shrieks and coos about love, chandeliers and dragons. But what’s the point in criticizing them for their musical aptitude? Their bio on the Troubleman site proudly proclaims: “There is not a single drum fill on the entire album!” Oh well. So much for the easy pan. Could’ve been fun.
So what exactly makes these guys earn the 2.5 as opposed to the .5 they should’ve earned on Pitchfork? (Editor’s note: Pitchfork actually gave this CD a 5.2 and compared them to author David Foster Wallace of all people!) For starters Ida No is downright compelling. She looks like a slightly sleazier Debby Harry and favors campy tight clothing, short nurse’s uniforms, etc. Stuff that makes you realize Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s is actually kinda tame and dumpy. (Sorry girls, I’m a shallow indie hipster.) She also has a voice that’s unique if unconventional.
Taste and common sense make me want to dismiss this band as a group of talentless poseurs that have the look and attitude and nothing else. But I think they’re well aware of that, if not proud of it. There’s something enthralling about how every song seems to be in danger of careening out of control or breaking down. The slick, shiny disco-ball sounds of the late ’70s are smudged into a distorted mess that teeters around stoned and careless. They’ve got a sleazy glam-rock attitude that nods toward the current dancey post-punk sound in a very twisted way. Very trendy, but you’ve got to give them credit for trying something slightly different than the rest of the pack, and doing it with conviction.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. This LP (even though it clocks in at a paltry 25 minutes, worthy of EP status) will raise eyebrows, but it’s certainly not a good lasting listen. It’s overly trendy, short on talent and depth, and is mostly disposable; not exactly something to listen to while hanging out with your friends or watering your plants. But if anything, the album serves as a flier for their live shows, which must be as pleasantly disastrous as this CD.