f we're going to be honest (and I think we should), we need to start off by saying that, yes, this record is not the A-Frames best record. But let's not get into that "their earlier stuff is so much better, man" sad sack rationalizing. Besides, you can actually find Black Forest in a Virgin record store. And that's more than you can say for the last two. So, let's focus on the present: Black Forest.
The group has always flirted the Kraftwerk ideal of the man-machine, but on this outing the group also takes on that group's nationality. The title, of course, but then there's the suite of eponymous songs, "U-Boat," "Eva Braun," and "Death Train" to further hammer the point home. Which isn't to say that the music isn't doing a good job of that on its own. With the exception of "Flies," the opening songs of the album are almost comically stiff.
But that's always been the band's secret weapon: the comedy of stiffness. I mean, how else can you take the lyric, "Eva Braun you are the one / Whose beauty lives when you are gone" sung in a better Ian Curtis impersonation than that Interpol guy can muster. It's the type of hilarity that occurs when you blast "Trans-Europe Express" out your car in the middle of Harlem.
Which is to say that it's not too hard to hear amid the swamp bass and prickly guitars, that this group seriously brings the funk. That's a blessing and a curse, obviously, as it's sometimes hard to dinstinguish one tune from another after the album is over, aside from the choice lyrics.
But, then again, because the A-Frames brand of robo-death-funk is so at odds with the current crop of scene-stars (where A-Frames march, others strut), it's hard not to remember see-saw-robo-queas-waltz. And why would you want to forget it?
Reviewed by: Michael Bennett
Reviewed on: 2005-03-31