hitdisco’s Kingdom of Fear is an appalling throwback to very recently. Not only do the inevitable Gang of Four and Talking Heads memorabilia seep into this tiresome party, but so do the Rapture, Klaxons—even Killers. There are people who have stretched and pulled this form’s limbs to delightful effect: LCD Soundsystem, Yacht, Dan Deacon, and Hot Chip (if you’ve seen a recent Hot Chip show). I don’t know what Shitdisco is doing besides tweaking and abusing their channels, banging out rhythms at exorbitantly high tempos, and throwing in as many benighted melodies and obtuse lyrics as possible.
For example: “Try to hide my erection.” Candor is fine, but I can’t imagine this (“Kung Fu,” track one) is the best musical setting for those words. The melodies are too murky and the lyrics full of cheeky guy-as-victim effort. And in between the long, Clash-y bass solos and “muahaha” vocal flourishes on “Disco Blood” is simply, “Disco, disco, disco” repeated with diminishing conviction. There is even a little Arctic Monkeys in the “Do what you want with me” falsettos on “72 Virgins,” the call-and-response vocal trick used frequently in recent post-post-punk endeavors. This only proves the point that Shitdisco have made a musical scrapbook of their favorite, mostly British happenings of the past 30 years. Usually the scrapbook inspires the music; here, there’s been no separation between the influence and the influenced.
“Dream of Infinity” is enjoyable in spite of its lyrics. “I’ll see you in my dreams” whined over a chorus is affecting; “I’ll see you in my dreams” shouted during the verse, less so—it’s just formulaic. The band is addicted to repetition: not only do most of the rhythms on this 35-minute album sound identical, most of the lines get recycled too. Fittingly, they could be the half-there chants of a sweaty, intoxicated person dancing with a potential hookup. So for its purposes (not disco, unless I’m missing something), the contents are fun—they pound out palpitations, leaps, crowd surfs, collapses, collisions: “That’s all the people want,” Shitdisco may have reasoned.
But it also helps to be original, inventive, and pensive about the whole thing. It’s certainly not that Shitdisco need more, or better, equipment. The brain is the priceless gadget needed to excavate something authentic out of a mess of keys, guitars, and drums. Any time that the group succeeds (the penultimate song, “OK,” sort of), the picture is still horribly derivative, as tolerable in the beginning of this decade as copying the Beatles was in the ’90s. But since that show-stopping post-punk trend appeared, younger bands have evolved, devolved, and otherwise moved on. Shitdisco, instead, are still trying to cash in. The only hope? That a live performance can create refreshing plays and rehashes of the recorded material, something that could fly in the face of a simple, simplistic, inebriated good time.
Reviewed by: Liz Colville
Reviewed on: 2007-06-14