Opening a show for Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ssion – a trio of animal-outfitted performers led by artistic wunderkind Cody Critcheloe – once closed its set by bashing to pieces a Tori Amos effigy filled with fake blood, much to the horror of the largely TRL-fan-filled crowd waiting to hear “Maps.” In other words, Critcheloe is a bit fucked up, and he’s totally punk (all irony included).
You’ve probably seen Critcheloe’s work. The not-yet-twenty-one-year-old Kansas City-based mixed-media artist drew the cover for Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Fever to Tell, and, while kicking around with Karen O and crew for touring and other madness, he animated a seizure-inducing video for Ms. O’s then-boyfriend’s band, Liars. Critcheloe’s own band was (emphasis on “was”) a spazzy, amateurish dance-rock experiment in live animated theatrics and lyrical inappropriateness with an overload of flamboyant posturing that made it too naughty not to love.
Recently, Critcheloe ditched the chicken-lion-cow orgy he called a live show and fulfilled his long-standing promise of giving the haters something to splooge their pants about by recruiting a live band, proving his status as a “real” musician. His first output as Ssion V.2 is the World’s Worth seven-inch, a release that falls a little short of capturing the group’s appealing sloppiness but polishes two live staples into über-quirky dance numbers.
Rehashing the simple dance-punk riff of “Call out Our Lions” from old-school Ssion’s 2003 debut, Opportunity Bless My Soul, “World’s Worth” is a sleazy sex rhyme with Critcheloe drawling his voice into the role of a pansy Iggy Stooge. With a bass line this funky, it’s hard to keep your arms from flailing about, and the chorus is so awkwardly tough that it may make you want to burn down the establishment. And then go out for enemas.
Tucked away after the bubble-gum-pop-meets-party-anthem “Don’t Celebrate!” is a toss-off cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” that only these twisted minds could concoct. Rather than ripping the tune straight from Nirvana, the group has opted to unlistenably but humorously cover a cover performed by Tori Amos (obsess much?). Nothing could matter less, though, because it’s almost entirely encased in a static hiss that goes from briefly recognizable chord progressions to codeine-enhanced sluggishness to hyper-speed choruses. In other words, like Critcheloe himself, it’s a bit fucked up, and totally punk.
Ssion Web site (with audio and video samples)
Sound Virus Records Web site