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Posted on October 30th, 2013 (9:00 am) by Ricky Perrotta

It has been a long, long time since Electric Six released 2003 disco rock single "Danger! High Voltage." Elliot Smith was still with us. LCD Soundsystem was not yet with us. Indie rock kids in general still sneered their lifeless sneer at dancing. Electric Six were breaking ground just by not putting "the" in front of their band name.

Since then, the prolific Electric Six—Mustang is their ninth studio album in ten years—have toiled in relative obscurity while the dance, dance revolution they arguably helped jump-start has flourished. These days, in order for your typical music snob to retain their street cred they have to know their James Blake from their William Blake and their acid lines from their, well, you know. Rockists need not apply.

How did this happen? Well, Electric Six followed the game-changing "Danger! High Voltage" with the abrasive LP Fire, immediately alienating listeners on both sides of the aisle. Part of the problem was, as it turns out, not many of their songs actually sounded like "Danger! High Voltage." Sonically they were, and still are, more of a glam punk band. Think Rocky Horror by way of the Dead Kennedys as impersonated by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The other problem was their tone. It was difficult to figure whether the band was satirical or sincere. Or both. They were certainly no Tenacious D. Worse, they weren't even The Darkness. They made silly songs about gay bars and your mom while omitting the thick layer of irony that might have cued listeners to laugh along with them.

Deciphering their intentions has proven to be a lost cause. They haven't changed, won't change, popularity be damned. The question is, do their musical chops warrant suffering their more unpleasant characteristics? The answer, on Mustang at least, is sort of.

Mustang starts off with a track titled "Nom De Plum." Forget that the title has nothing to do with the song—for at least a few minutes they do manage that balance between funny and annoying. They will catch listeners off guard with their churning guitars, running bass, and heavy percussion coupled with lead singer Dick Valentine's silly interceding lines such as, "Yeah, shake it up / cause I like it fizzy!" It's a refreshing break from the self-seriousness heard in a lot of today's "punk" rock. Unfortunately, the very next song, "Jessica Dresses Like a Dragon," is equally nonsensical but without the jokes. The fourth track is a hilariously unexpected stomper dedicated to Maroon 5's Adam Levine, featuring the lines "Burn in hell / Rot in hell / Burn in hell." The heavy-handedness really works in their favor, but once the listener knows it's coming the song loses some appeal.

The album needed more tracks like "Late Night Obama Food," one of the only songs that has any point of view or social commentary. Valentine starts off singing "Como se dice late night Obama food," and the vague political cue is just strong enough to inform later lines, "We are desperate / We'll eat anything they put inside a box," and "We are starving / But we're eating more than we ever did before." Combined with the spastic, disco-funk arrangement, it makes for a good time. Then they throw out all the good will with boring groaner, "I Never F***** Her." And it's pretty much more of the same from there. A lot of the songs tend to bleed together and the tempo doesn't vary much throughout. A song from Electric Six here and there is alright, but Mustang, in its overly long forty-seven minute entirety, will inspire a lot of eye rolling.

So, yes, to answer readers' unasked question, Electric Six are still around, doing what they do, confusing listeners and critics alike, probably having a pretty good time in the process. It's long past time we expected any clarification.

Track List:
1. Nom de Plume
2. Jessica Dresses Like a Dragon
3. Show Me What Your Lights Mean
4. Adam Levine
5. Cranial Games
6. The New Shampoo
7. Iron Dragon
8. Late Night Obama Food
9. I Never F***** Her
10. Miss Peaches Wears an Iron Dress
11. Unnatural Beauty
12. Gimme the Eyes
13. Skin Traps
14. Cheryl vs. Darryl

Electric Six: Mustang
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

63 / 100
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