Music

Message to the Darkness: Eat your poison heart out

Him
Razorblade Romance
Universal

These pale girlie-men (silliest names: Gas Lipstick, Voltan Pluto) have sold 2 million albums in Finland mostly to teenage girls, and their chosen rune crosses a pentagram with a heart. They pout out '80s-style Cult/Bang Tango goth-pop-metal with big-haired riffs, and sing ridiculous romance words with all sorts of flouncy filigrees, pirouetting the falsettos in Chris Isaak's noxious '91sand-fucking hit "Wicked Game" toward glam land and falling into low-register Andrew Eldritch ditches and lizarding through the waltz-schmaltz slime. Nosferatu candelabra pianos and darkwave keyboard intros get immediately supplanted by 1983 Billy Idol dance-oriented-metal syndrums and power chords; the tear-stained, sour-tongued guitar solos are all dumb wank. Singer Ville Valo is a hilarious blabbermouth in interviews—Nigel Tufnel as an NME critic, sort of. His silliest titles: "Your Sweet Six Six Six," "Gone With the Sin," "Join Me in Death," "Death Is in Love With Us." Just like Romeo and Juliet, together in eternity.


Ohioans saw down teeth, manage to avoid emo

Templeton
It's a Beautiful Life
Humble Features Music

I'm glad that we're still friends, after all I've put you through"; "Alone in my room with your memory, I use my teeth for an emery board"; stuff about "emotional lifelines": This Columbus, Ohio, quartet are emo in their thoughtfully sincere yet noncommittal confessionality; maybe also in their bluesless, machismo-free harmonies and melodies. What's less emo is the ease with which they shift between glam shouts, bass wobbles, pushy scuzz, downbound Doors crawls, ticking alarm clocks, shortwave cross talk, girl-vocal counterpoint, and five-dollar thrift-shop organs imagining they're filling a cathedral with pipes. There's a power ballad climaxing in a sweet solo, and the album closes with a punch-drunk Stone Temple Pilots-style swinger followed by a lazy hazy cowboy-trail lullaby. Three members, lots of concrete nouns, and a sense of humor have disappeared since their 1999 debut, which had "Math Rock 101" and high school football memories and a phone call about a Monica- Master P-Jay-Z-Templeton bill. But Templeton still suggest a bridge between Queens of the Stone Age and Dismemberment Plan—which is something like what emo once promised, back before it turned into the prissiest singer-songwriter pop-punk.


Brooklyn band leaves stone-age boogie tracks on distant desert sands

Qatsi
We Love the Urge
Hey Frankie Recordings

The Stoner-Rock Nation faction that believes Queens of the Stone Age sold out would no doubt wrongly consider this Brooklyn trio's sound too clean-cut, as well. They pay meticulous attention to crisscrossing tunes and voices; their funk and time changes and heaviness and noise seem merely incidental, never telegraphed in any way, just emerging naturally in the service of an unfashionably hard, no-bullshit groove from chunky roiling rural boogie rhythms (the guitarist used to play drums, and you can tell) and extended bass-churns, at times increasingly urgent and distorted and at times almost fingersnappingly alleycatlike. Jude Flannery's relaxed and understatedly floating but excitable middle-high-register vocals are blues-tinged; arrangements swallow themselves and open up in the middle; concise songs twist and gurgle without losing track of their feet like a jam band or bogging down like a grunge one. Sunbaked '70s mud-festival or '80s AOR or '90s Lollapalooza feel—words about desert roads. First song's lyrics quote "Kickstart My Heart"; second track's chorus could be Cheap Trick; the best lyric concerns a prostitute.

 
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