Title: In The Red
Catalogue Number: Ze Records CD32
Review Format: CD
Release Year: 2007
Fronted by American import Emily McLaren, Michael Dracula are a Glaswegian band who have had the opportunity to relaunch the once famous Ze record label, stylish home of 80's NY art pop/ no wave/new wave fame. Although there is a working live band line up, on this album McLaren writes, sings and plays the majority of the instruments. Described on the Ze Records site as that of a band hoping to be hired to play at the hypothetical wedding of Michael Jackson to Myra Hindley, that essence of total weirdness is hinted at throughout but never really nailed down.
McLaren's vocals throughout are of the disembodied, cool, detached variety, part sixties chick, and part art rock cynic. The music is a bizarre blend of rockabilly wave surf meets post pop deconstruction, think of the Flying Lizards covering the Cramps. There is heavy use of a slightly detuned piano which gives the album a slightly honky tonk feel (as in Mrs Mills, not Hank Williams).
The result is a fairly homogenous feel to the listening experience but occasionally there is a departure from the emotionally blunted aspect - a song such as "Poppers" that has jauntiness in its step with an evocative fairground keyboard figure, for example. "What Can I Do for You" shuffles along over a dark brooding bass and keyboard riff although to my mind it is very reminiscent of Mazzy Star's "Ghost Highway".
Overall there is much to enjoy here although it is very tempting to entreat Ms. McLaren to crank up the guitars and loosen up à la Tav Falco and really swing.
Reviewer: Bluesbunny Hop
April 8, 2008
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