Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Album Review: Senor Smoke / Electric Six (Metropolis Records)

Stupid music is, um…stupid. Call me a snob. Call me uptight. Call me pretentious, I don’t really care. Call me a red-stater to your blue. A blue to your red. Call me a posin’ hipster who wouldn’t know a fun time if it jumped up and bit her in the polyester vest. It ain’t no thang. I know the truth, and so I cannot be hurt by your name calling, you feeble-minded, reverse-discriminating, wrong, wrong, wrong person with bad taste in music, you. Ha! I’m going to state this simply. Senor Smoke by Electric Six is an awful album. It’s not that I’m against fun, garish, ironic music. Les Savy Fav? Indeed. McLusky? Yes please. Art Brut? I can dig it. What do these outfits have that Electric Six does not? Brains. You can be fun and smart at the same time. In fact, most people would be of the opinion that in any sort of art, these two characteristics are mutually dependent. What’s that you say? Electric Six isn’t interested in creating art? Hmm. Am I supposed to say then, that if this is the case, Senor Smoke is an amazing album? I don’t think so. Senor Smoke consists of one cheesy-bad electro garage rock song after another, which draw upon what most of us hate about music from the late seventies and early eighties: murky, over digitized synth work, predictable power chord progressions, and needlessly overwhelming bass lines. There’s a reason the artists who are advancing the modern music scene don’t mimic hair bands and disco rock: it’s terrible music. There’s no refinement, no technical intricacy, no thought. If you tell me this is the point, that what makes Electric Six innovative is its total lack of respect for the compulsion in today’s music scene to progress for the sake of progression, to create noise for the sake of being able to say I’ve made something unlike anything ever before created, then I’m going to come right back and say that Rob Schneider is a comedic genius. It’s not even the fact that Electric Six isn’t doing anything new. If this album was melodic and full of hooks and beautifully classic pop structures, than I could at least respect a variation on a theme. If it was aesthetically pleasing in the least I wouldn’t have a problem. But what we have here is Dick Valentine talk-screaming in his annoyingly frenetic, raspy voice over various tracks that all sound the same. Electric Six practices no restraint, yet there is nothing pushing the envelope of musical risk-taking. Simple beats, choppy yet boring guitar work, and atrocious lyrics inundate what could have been an interesting experiment in lofty indie pop backlash. If the lyrics were cleverly sardonic it would perhaps salvage a part of this album. Instead we’re subjected to banal, gratuitous, outdated references (“We’ll karaoke all night long/We’ll Macarena till the break of dawn”) and social criticism as profound as the musings of any sixteen-year-old, angst-ridden poet (“Stevie's joined a corporation/Another bee for the beehive/Johnny makes love to a dummy/Says, ‘Ain't it good to be alive?’") It’s painfully obvious that the men of Electric Six are in love with themselves. It’s one thing to reject trends. It’s one thing to make music that is purposefully unpleasant. But when you regurgitate crap people were regurgitating two decades ago, and you don’t have any good reason to do so, if you’re creating idiotic music as easily as an idiot would, I’m sorry, but you can’t expect anyone to give a shit about what you’re doing. Putting out a bad album isn’t a matter of a band’s confidence in its ability to be ironic. It’s a matter of a band thinking so highly of itself that it doesn’t care if it wastes the time and money and eardrums of the people who give it the opportunity to record its bad music in the first place. On Senor Smoke Electric Six tries too hard (or not enough) to be pop culture whores, and the result is unimaginative and anything but ironic. It’s revoltingly indulgent and…well, stupid. Electric Six plays the Double Door on Monday, March 27.


Anonymous Megan Timmons said...

Whew! Those are some words Robin. Did you like Electric Six's first album? I liked the first album-probably because it was humorous and had a disco beat. (But of course now it is old with the Darkness, etc. turing similiar tricks)

I totally agree that they are in love with themselves. I saw them in concert in 2003 (yikes!) and they were jerks to the crowd, walked into the place like they were rockstars and the set wasn't all that great. However it was fun to dance to at the time and the spectacle was fun as well. Junior Senior was the opener for that tour and they outsang/outshone Electric Six by miles...

3/23/2006 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Carlo Garcia said...

I hate to say that I agree... but there is a reason behind the fall of The Electric Six... I firmly believe that the deaparture of Disco, Surge Joebot, and the
Rock-n-Roll Indian back in 2003, right after FIRE was released lead to the demise of the band. I saw the Electric Six in 2002 @ the metro, right when they changed their name from The Wildbunch. They played with Detroit Cobras, Dirtbombs, and the Witches. They were amazing, that lineup was one of the best I have seen to date.

The original bands members created a very cohesive sound, something that you could not replace. When the those three left, away with them went two guitars and a bass... leaving frontman Dick Valentine, Drummer M, and keyboards Tait Nucleus. And now, M is gone as well...

I saw them again before they broke up in May 2003, and you could tell, they were not getting along...

The new incarnation of the electric six might as well be a cover band, lead by dictator Valentine.

I was a huge fan when I first saw them. I bought their old material, and FIRE when it came out... but, am disappointed by Valentine's latest.

3/23/2006 03:02:00 PM  

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