Review Summary: Electric Six outdo themselves...1 of 1 thought this review was well written
It is a rare feat when one comes across a mainstream-present band that doesn't exactly sound like it's trying hard to be there. An example of this would be early Electric Six – whilst select songs from Fire did crack the charts, “Getting Into The Jam” featured a crawling bass line more reminiscent of Captain Beefheart than the Top 40, and even choice cuts “Danger! High Voltage” and “Gay Bar” (as well as their eccentric videos) gave off no air of a corporate single. The Detroit band's later albums showed them evolving, moving away from the public eye and the simplistic, flamboyant disco rock of their debut as they incorporated new elements into their sound. Enter 2009, and Electric Six's sixth full-length, KILL, hits the shelves of a music retail outlet near you.
Whilst the diligent enough to follow the band after it left the limelight have been continuously rewarded with splendid music, Electric Six recently noticed that it would be goddamn awesome to jokily include some Fire references while marketing their most recent release in hopes of getting some folks from outside the die-hard circle to invest a buck or two. Flashy's “Gay Bar Part Two” was blatantly fake, but KILL's promotional band biography tempts the potential buyer with an album that sounds like Fire cooked in avant-garde sauce of what the band picked up since their debut. Seems feisty, no? Who wouldn't want the big fat fuzz choruses of Fire coupled with Switzerland's melodic sensibility or I Shall Exterminate...'s geeky synthesizer fun...
The music shows was some truth in the claim – a number of songs are definitely more disco oriented than Flashy ever got, and the guitar and keyboards usually nick the limelight from all the bizarre instrumental twists of the band's previous outing. That's not to say that this is a bare, blandly orchestrated album – “Body Shot” features some sleazy African percussion, and “You're Bored” sports a slightly out of place horn section. However, on KILL they are more of an addition than the main meal – if ever there was a guitar-oriented Electric Six album, this is it. It seems that the guitarists have become way more confident and imaginative lead players, and their soloing reaches ability unheard before all over the album. Be it the marvelous, majestic “Steal Your Bones” (Electric Six take on an epic power ballad... and come out victorious. A true highlight), wherein a number of heartfelt licks placed within the chorus create a wonderful emotional climax, “Rubbin' Me The Wrong Way” with its off-kilter jazzy noodling or the lead single, “Body Shot”, where a demented slop of a lead foreshadows the song's unforeseen crash into Zulu territory – guitar moments like that are few and far in between on the previous records, the guys can be proud of themselves.
The featured songwriting is top notch. On the whole, Electric Six have always been on the more consistent side of things, but even triumphs like Switzerland would feature a bump or two. No filler is to be found on here, every song is elaborately constructed and works perfectly. KILL feels rather heavy for an Electric Six release, the guitar tone is fat (a conscious nod back to the sound of Fire, having the marketing ploy make even more sense?) and Drop D tuning is abound. “Electric Cowboy” may just be the heaviest song the band has done until now... the tunes span a variety of styles, from behind-the-wheel rock (“Escape From Ohio”) through a smooth, organ-led, swinging ballad (“My Idea Of Fun”) before wrapping the show up with the long lost brother of “Future Is In The Future” (“White Eyes”). No stinkers to be found, and even the tunes that seem underwhelming upon first listen eventually grow on you.
Another good side of the record is the way the band feels very alive and into the music. Flashy saw them sound a little limp, but a year later Electric Six is fully regenerated and out to get you. Whilst Dick Valentine, the frontman, never went below a certain quality level, he sounds particularly rejuvenated here, and his explosive energy matches the swaggering overconfidence of his performance on Fire. Members of the band have stated (privately, not whilst doing an album-promoting interview) that KILL is their favorite album in a while, and their enthusiasm for it certainly shows.
Summing up, Electric Six jokingly market their new album as sounding like Fire... and much to the dismay of the dismissers of the promotional stunt, it does incorporate some elements of the band's mainstream successful debut album whilst adding a lot of the elements they have incorporated into their music since. The end result – a completely new and diverse entity, showcasing very consistent songwriting, slightly augmented heaviness and a newfound guitar confidence, all this while the band sounds like they're having a quality time making it. Electric Six seems to be on top of its game, and it's pure pleasure to listen to the guys going for it. Eagerly awaiting the follow-up, probable time of arrival – October 2010...