On Let It Rot, Jake Zavracky of Boston duo the Cyanide Valentine comes across like one of those normal white guys who court, and overcome, the world’s corruption in high-’80s movies like Something Wild, 52 Pick-Up, Slam Dance, and Street Smart. Jeff Daniels and Roy Scheider and Christopher Reeve weren’t exactly heroes—they obviously wanted something bad to happen and were surprised when it did—but they got some nice action, even if they were goofballs (or slimeballs), smug fucks who should have known better going in.
So if at times Zavracky’s moral fervor comes across as dated as the clunky drums and unfunky synth basslines he favors, he still seems decent enough to hate himself for taking money from his parents so that he can slink back guiltily to the “dirty city” in exemplary high-’80s style. Like Daniels in Something Wild, he wonders why he should play the victim when it’s his woman who is the despicable whore. “I’m feeling thrown away/I’ve been selfish and all I’ve done is take,” he sings, so moral fervor might just save him. And the music, especially Wendy Mittelstadt’s keyboards, ultimately transcends cliché, suggesting the swagger of some flawed hero whose grandeur is inseparable from his failings.