These recent MP3s by Kings Park new-wave deconstructionists Microwave Orphans are so punk rock they almost aren’t. But they are. The first one is called “Busted Amps and Strings,” which is a vintage example of the punk-rock song title. And, fair enough, it sounds like they definitely may have melted down a circuit or two in their amps—as well as snapped the high E string. But from the opening squealing synth riff to the almost mournful last bit of singing, this song is slightly more than just the speeded up Bouncing Souls it appears to be at first. There is a song under there. And if you never manage to find it, I feel quite confident you can pass the time moshing or leaping upon some broken glass. Good, clean fun.
“Shattered Window,” on the other hand, creates a new genre for itself almost straight away. It combines thrashy metal guitars with a synthesizer that sounds like it’s playing the reprise from Three Penny Opera. However, no one will mistake this vocalist for Bobby Darin. Over the course of this baffling anthem, he screams, shouts and rants at speeds that render the lyrics as little more than a syllabic rhythm instrument. About halfway through, I decided it would make a great theme to an animated super-hero program. Than I changed my mind. Nothing in this song makes sense; it is almost as if it were carefully designed as to be impossible to enjoy. But it fails, since I did.
The final song, “Hornswaggled,” just begs to be shut off, but I’ve got nothing else to do. It seems to aspire to be some sort of rockabilly anthem, but just sounds like your little brother’s punk band playing the theme to Rawhide. Then again, your little brother’s punk band sucked and the Microwave Orphans don’t. They’re horrible, but they definitely do not suck. Quite good, actually.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 7, 1999