East European Weirdos Confuse Whammy Bars for Pillows


What were they thinking? What were they trying to prove? “They” being Czech rockers Sunshine, whose 2001 album, Necromance, was only lately released in this land o’ ours and who seem determined to improve upon and honor the legacy of . . . Gene Loves Jezebel? It sure sounds like it. Though their rock is harder and more futuristically inclined than the work of those painted ’80s skinny boys. Come to think of it, it takes Havel-sized cojones to delve into goth romance-fiction at this late date when you could just be disappearing up the pasty white arses of Gang of Four and Wire like everyone else.

All around, Sunshine are a band of improbable mixtures. High-hair diction and poetry are met by Von Lmo space-boogie squall on “Narcoleptic Feedback,” perhaps the most accurately titled song in recent memory as it sounds like the guitarist falls asleep on his whammy bar at the end. That song’s flip side, “Insomnia,” has a late-period Helios Creed sci-fi opening, pre-suckage Simple Minds dystopian dreamscape riffs, and pop-metal smarts that suggest what that dude from Placebo would have sounded like if he had grown up worshipping Hawkwind instead of David Bowie. Dean and Gene Jezebel or whatever the hell their names were would have killed for a song as catchy and weird as “Daydreams About White Lines.” And “Punk and Chic” answers the age-old question once and for all: “How would the Stooges have sounded if Gary Numan had been their singer?”

It’s the cheesy washes of moog, the pre-Midge Ultravox high-synth terror, the Visage-do-blues-rock and/or hard-rocker-gone-Batcave quality that make Necromance memorable. By the time the vocoders attack and “The Spooky Cat Song” has its way with you, and then four bonus dance remixes of “Astral Love” show off all their shades of new wave, techno, and dub, you’ll be both perplexed and impressed.