I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me from Being the Master
lectric Six has a lead singer who sounds like Dr. Frank N. Furter playing Bryan Ferry on KISS' Dynasty. Seriously, Dick Valentine would perform "I Was Made For Lovin' You" at a gay karaoke bar, improvising eroto-apocalytpo jive while dancing on your dick. Now that the band can promote an album released in the U.S. on schedule, Valentine can concentrate on finding ever more exciting ways to pronounce I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being the Master in interviews. What makes record company executives so nervous? This rutting gargoyle sounds like he could be a real hit on the "Entertainment Tonight" mash circuit. ISEEAMTRMFBTM, which takes longer to type than to hear in its entirety, is sumptuously recorded outrage played and sung with flair and precision (the rolling piano lines and crisp drums are recommended to the Hold Steady). Only two questions need answering: whether any of these new songs competes with "Gay Bar" or "Danger! High Voltage" for your time; and if Electric Six are the kind of band for whom richer arrangements bespeak "progress," or something.
Certainly the band has never sounded this good: the junk synths, sequencers, and guitars sound clean enough to almost mistake this for a Good Charlotte record (the well-deployed clarinet and saxophone on "Down at McDonnelzzz" remind us that this is not Good Charlotte after all). This is more like Pere Ubu circa Cloudland: all manner of burbling instrumental tomfoolery over which an outsized personality bellows nonsense of varying degrees of relevance and pungency while the sparkling mix makes it all sound creepier. And as far as personalities go—whoo boy, nothing stops Valentine. Embracing vulgarity so full-bloodedly that it assumes the force of religious ecstasy, he recites/bellows the marvelous lunkhead lyrics like a preacher reading from the Book of Isaiah. "Lenny Kravitz" has the highest hit ratio: "I wanna see who's living between your legs / You can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs" and "You can dress me up like JFK, hide in the grassy knoll, and blow me away" are this year's finest groaners, and it doesn't stop there.
Guitarist Johnny Na$hinal and keyboardist Tait Nucleus compose enough electronic squiggles and power chord riffage to give Duran Duran's Andy Taylor and Nick Rhodes pause, especially on a number called "Randy's Hot Tonight!" that with the right hot remix could become a club hit, especially the way in which Electric Six pilfer the Bravery and Franz Ferdinand for stupid quavery baritones and faux homoeroticism. Then there are the lyrics ("If you live in Japan, you're Japanese...if you work in television, you're a fucking liar"), ideal for pelvic thrusts on the dance floor and mouthings to your date through outsized beefsteak Jagger lips.
Besides the very hot "Randy," album closer "Rip It" is the other keeper—a hash as a coherent political statement, but far from muddled. (Electric Six are one of the rare bands that understand the difference.) This breathless stomper takes that old "Roadrunner" beat on a tour through the detritus that the Bush administration has left to its citizens, and while the references to politicians who talk to God is specific enough to curl the lips of liberals content to be reminded of what they know already, Valentine's pronunciation of the title chorus as froggy onomatopoeia and sudden channeling of yes-that-Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs ("Use the lotion!") evokes a dystopia in which erotics, channel surfing, and the erotics of channel surfing are inseparable. It's also a really fucking catchy tune. Let's hope Metropolis Records understands what it's got when promoting them.