Great labels can’t hit a homerun with every release. Case in point: the debut from duo To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie. It’s hard to tell what exactly the folks at Kranky, home to stellar acts including Stars of the Lid, Charalambides, Deerhunter, and Labradford, heard intriguing in The Patron. All I hear are attempts at avant-noise collage backed up by no real substance.
The music of Jehna Wilhelm and Mark McGee reminds me an awful lot of Stabbing Westward’s, without that group’s penchant for Nine Inch Nails-nicking vocals. Like Stabbing Westward, To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie seems to think that a bunch of random industrial and goth noises — what sounds like ventilators, buzz saws, and explosions — make for one spooky soundscape. But just like cheesy horror flicks, this music just isn’t genuinely emotionally upsetting.
What vocals there are aren’t vital, either. Wilhelm tends to coo in a very high, indecipherable range that’s at odds with the imposing sounds behind her. The band calls The Patron a concept album based on a “love story between two merging corporations,” an interesting idea that’s hardly carried through. As the ten-track, hour-long album moves along, all I hear is more chanting, more noise.