Before there was Motley Crue and crack, there was the New York Dolls and cocaine. Before glam rock fell in love with stadium tours and shoved its head irretrievably up David Lee Roth’s ass, the idea of grown men prancing around in women’s clothes yowling about sex, drugs and spacemen from Mars was downright revolutionary, if not refreshingly ridiculous. The San Diego quartet Louis XIV is a fun, if superficial, reminder of the naïve pleasures of that earlier decade.
Not surprisingly, the band’s proper debut EP, Illegal Tender, is so oversexed it borders on the predatory. On “Finding Out True Love is Blind,” singer Jason Hill discusses the carnal pleasures of Asian girls, brown girls and stupid girls, among others, all of whom he plans to squeeze until they bleed. Hill may have the subtlety of Andrew Dice Clay, but the stumbling melody and that sweaty beat is so perfectly suited to his debauchery it’s hard to find much offense in his catcalls. And when the girls get their chance to pucker a few lines like “Wind me up and make me crawl to you,” you realize the only victim here is the bedsprings.
Thankfully, Hill and his cohorts — guitarist/vocalist Brian Karscig, drummer Mark Maigaard and bassist Jimmy Armbrust — pull themselves away from the sheets long enough to write “Marc,” whose blatant Bowie-isms somehow manage not to detract from the thrill of its elegiac piano and syrupy guitar lines. “Louis Reprise,” however, manages to rise above more than just the smut. When an opening Stooges rave-up gives away to a down-home barnyard romp replete with fiddle and slide guitar, it’s time to drop the name-dropping and grab a drink.
It’s still true that the guys in Louis XIV do a pretty piss-poor job of distinguishing themselves from their bloody-nosed, boney-legged counterparts of thirty years ago, but my advice is to ignore the fussy footnotes. If you’re in for a bit of naughtiness, Illegal Tender makes for a fun night out … or in.