The Englishwoman crosses her shapely legs, the better to show off those bulbous black pumps she borrowed from Minnie Mouse, and wonders just when all this “Mistress Chloe” business got started. Back at the dawn of new wave, she was simply Claire Mansfield, vocalist for Britain’s promising but unrecorded Voyeurs, but that scene vanished down a new-romantic kitchen sink, and she went on to explore animal rights and other alternasquats before finally discovering all the toffs out there who’ll royally remunerate any idea issued by a flesh-and-vinyl dominatrix. So if she’s now the “Supreme Dominant Goddess of All London,” why go back to mere pop music? Oh, that’s right, it was that excitable Yank, that John Mendelssohn, with all his banter about having fainted dead away in the delivery room at the birth of rock criticism, and his hectoring insistence that she take up singing again. Just as long as their album is no knackered Christopher Milk bar . . .
If you’re not a subscriber to the BDSM mission statement, Like a Moth to Its Flame‘s trappings (like the tastefully grainy cover photo of some chump about to get his rump thumped) may just seem quaint, but don’t throw the stunning fun out with the infantilist’s bathwater. In Mansfield, Mendel-ssohn has at last found the perfect throat to convey his overachiever lyrics and melodies. Her vocals are sweetly breathy, with a lush Limeyness that recalls something of Dusty Springfield’s gritty splendor, and they tease Mendelssohnian chestnuts like 1989’s “Barbara’s Brassiere” (anthropomorphic fetishism) into pop tunes that radio ought to obey. The auteur himself, billed variously as “Guy Trenzich” (vokes) or “The Prince Alberts” (axes), provides suitable accompaniment to some especially good effects, as in the rushing synth washes of the runway-reggae’d “Pretty Legs,” or the cabaret-plunge keyboarding of “Boytoy.” “Venus Infers” even shares the sadie-maisie subject matter of the similarly named Velvet Underground tune—but it applies a pomo cross-marketing lash Uncle Lou never saw coming back in ’65. —Richard Riegel
Core-Constituents Consumer Advisory: Do not lick the playing surface of this disc (even if ordered to do so by Mistress Chloe herself), as reproduction could be affected. Mansfield-Metroplex Music: 106 Pierce Street, Santa Rosa, CA 94504; heartless.com/MistressChloe/mothFlame.html.