Electric Six
Fresh Blood For Tired Vampyres


3.5
great

Review

by turnip90210 USER (65 Reviews)
October 8th, 2016 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Phoning in the chance to rekindle the golden age

The concept of the “true fans” has been around for a while, but it’s only started gaining widespread traction in the past few years through the magic of the Internet. I mean, if given the choice between mucking around with contractually oppressive third parties to reach a wider audience and directly serving up more goods to a smaller audience willing to throw their collective wallets at you, the latter feels like a natural path to take. At some point Electric Six smelled blood and realised that they can put out more material and still have the fan base snap it up. The band’s been funding extra projects through Kickstarter, with this year’s edition being a mockumentary with a complementary soundtrack. Dick Valentine’s been busy outside of the band as well, with annual solo acoustic albums and tours being joined by pornographic thrillers and party planners. All this on top of the band’s regular, already hectic, schedule.

When combined with the fact the band’s been going at it relentlessly for a decade, it should come as no surprise that Electric Six is starting to show wear around the edges. Gig announcements used to take on the form of lengthy personalised Facebook posts, now they’re a quick burst of generic text. Crucially, the music suffered as well. A certain magical spark has been largely absent from the albums after 2011, and they’ve all aged horribly. There’s nothing wrong with the content per se, but the overwhelming majority refuses to stick in a manner that even mid-album filler did in the times of old. A lot of the content is rushed and unpolished. Whilst the experimentation was artistically fulfilling in a way, it kind of felt like the band was putting content out because it had to and not because it wanted to. At what point does one become a slave of his or her own creative freedom?

Fresh Blood For Tired Vampyres is an infuriating album. Somehow the old magic is back, perhaps due to the fact that the band embraces their underused electronic, groovy side with open arms. It feels like their heart is back in it, and even most of the mid-album duds have vibrant earworm choruses that will stick. At the same time, this is the most half-arsed record yet, which makes for a horrible coincidence given the potential of the material. When the album gets it right, goddamn does it get it right. The lovely atmospheric swirl of “Acid Reducer” transports the listener to a far-off nebula and drops some subtle melodic cues that promptly get taken up by the stage left entrance of battleship “The Number of the Beast”. “Mood Is Improving” and “I’ll Be In Touch” are both wonderfully melancholic, albeit in different ways – the former offers delightful, hypnotic guitar work whilst the latter makes great use of some female backing vocals and a banal, pounding rhythm. “(Be My) Skin Caboose” is earworm city with the best of them, so stupidly catchy that it takes a moment to realise you’re singing “drop a deuce, drop a deuce, drop a deuce!” in your head (or, worse yet, out loud). “Space Walkin’” is the best album closer they’ve ever done, oozing that elusive final track feel that some acts can never get right. A wonderfully understated melody basing on the roots of the four-chord acoustic progression serves as the space hippy core for the track to slowly build up on. My favourite part has to be the beautiful electric guitar rendition of this theme, with perfectly placed octave jumps. All this is Electric Six at their absolute greatest, reaching the same heights as the golden era that ended with the departure of The Colonel.

The problem is everything else on the track list. Very few tracks are irredeemable stinkers with absolutely nothing to offer (“Greener Pastures”), but the presence of little nuggets of magic makes them feel very attention-starved. Just about all the inspired moments happen to be choruses, and it feels like the band slapped on undercooked verses and other sections for the sake of song completion. Take “My Dreams” – the chorus is very distinct and alive, and the slightly discordant robotic bridge is lovely, but everything else is blatantly phoned in (the verse is just an inferior variation of the chorus melody, for Pete’s sake!). The same can be said for most of the second half of the album, with some songs being closer to making it (“I Got The Box”) than others (“Lee Did This To Me”). Another annoying trend is the recycling of old published content, something the band abstained from doing until now. “Lottery Reptiles” appeared on the soundtrack of the aforementioned Kickstarter mockumentary, and has no place here as the vibe clashes with the majority of the disc even after the rearrangement. “Dance With Dark Forces” and “The Lover’s Pie” are both heavily indebted to “The New Shampoo” off Mustang. The former rips its lyrics in a horribly misguided verse that shouldn’t even exist (as usual on here, a ridiculously awesome chorus rolls around to save the day). The latter bases its whole existence on a straight lift of “The New Shampoo”’s verse melody. When you pull out said melody, only the record’s obligatory flamboyant fretboard-scorching solo is left. In a hilarious coincidence, “The Lover’s Pie” and “Dance With Dark Forces” also share a processed vocal sample.

The ridiculous amount of variance present within single tracks makes me despise the business model the band chose to follow. The magic that made the band’s golden age finally chose to return for more than a track or two, and instead of using the opportunity to make a truly phenomenal album Electric Six buffered a lot of the moments of brilliance with tepid filler content to churn songs out. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a hell of an album – the last time I had 10 songs stuck in my head was Zodiac, and I’m sure this will age the best since Heartbeats & Brainwaves, but at the same time it could have been so much more than it turned out to be. Why not devote more time to writing some replacement numbers for the most misguided moments of the record (“Lottery Reptiles” just doesn’t gel, “Greener Pastures” does nothing, “The Lover’s Pie” does nothing once you remove self plagiarism) and better sections to replace obvious rushed mid-song filler (“Dance With Dark Forces” and “My Dreams” would benefit the most)? Make one smasher of an album, capable of rivalling the best you ever made, instead of three mushy projects getting in each other’s grill space?



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user ratings (7)
Chart.
3
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
October 8th 2016


13230 Comments


holy shit i thought the last album these guys did was Mustang and now there are 3 more

Digging: Emma Ruth Rundle - Marked For Death

turnip90210
October 8th 2016


400 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If you count proper albums, yes. There's also a covers disc, two demos/rarities collections, a soundtrack to a mockumentary, a mockumentary, two solo albums from the singer...

PumpBoffBag
October 8th 2016


880 Comments


I used to love these guys, although I have to say everything post-Kill has been pretty underwhelming for me

Mad.
October 8th 2016


4674 Comments


ZODIAC

PumpBoffBag
October 9th 2016


880 Comments


eh, didn't really get the love for it...

turnip90210
October 9th 2016


400 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

But but but Zodiac D:



But yeah, overall, those are probably the band's best years. They had a chance to rekindle that level of quality on here, but didn't use its full potential.

Mad.
October 9th 2016


4674 Comments


Interested to hear this if that's the case, their other albums since Zodiac were forgettable apart from the odd song

If only this could signal a return to glory for the band

turnip90210
October 9th 2016


400 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The main theme to Space Walkin' sneaks up on me all the time, I caught myself absent-mindedly ho-ho'ing along with it in the middle of the supermarket earlier today. Whilst their best song is still "(Who The Hell Just) Call My Phone", this thing is easily their best closer. I hope it makes it into the set and stays there, it deserves it.

conditionals
October 13th 2016


523 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

This is a great review that captures everything I feel about E6! It can often be infuriating that they don't just put a bit more effort into making something amazing (and also, for fuck's sake, the album art).



On first listen, for me this album is their most consistent since Heartbeats & Brainwaves. The really started to slide off after Zodiac, but I feel like this and Bitch Don't Let Me Die! are trending in the right directions (aka, the direction of being not total shit).



I also like that this album has no obviously terrible songs which threaten to break an otherwise decent album (like Big Red Arthur from Bitch!). Honestly it sounds like a grower, I'll have to listen to it a few more times.



PS - For the debate above, Zodiac is absolutely their best!

banstylejbo
October 17th 2016


4 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I've listened to this album at least 9 or 10 times since it was released. At first I was really not into this one. I was finding DV's vocals to be too theatrical for the underlying music, which was distracting. I'd say though that this one has grown on me a decent bit since. Number of the Beast, Mood is Improving, I'll Be in Touch and Skin Caboose are easily the best tracks on the album to me. Unfortunately the album gets pretty uneven after Skin Caboose. While I agree with the reviewer's sentiments on Lottery Reptiles and Greener Pastures, I can't say I share the same feelings for the closer (Space Walkin). I rate most of their other album closers much better.



In rating their discography, this album seems about on par with Bitch Don't Let Me Die. Some great stuff, some average stuff, and some marginal filler. No Electric Six album is flat out bad, but something has to bring up the rear and I think their last two unfortunately do. I wish they would focus a little more and maybe increase the quality of fewer projects, rather than spread them themselves thin and wind up half-assing things a bit on a larger slate of projects.



Today's rating of Electric Six's (main) albums:

1. I Shall Exterminate...

2. Senor Smoke

3. Human Zoo

4. Fire

5. Zodiac

6. KILL

7. Switzerland

8. Heartbeats and Brainwaves

9. Mustang

10. Flashy

11. Fresh Blood for Tired Vampyres

12. Bitch, Don't Let Me Die!

Mad.
October 18th 2016


4674 Comments


Pretty controversial ranking there my friend

banstylejbo
October 18th 2016


4 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Would love to see your rankings! A friend of mine who is also big into Electric Six has a very different ranking than myself as well. A few years ago we actually did a sort of thought experiment where we selected two songs off every album to make a "Best Of" mix and compared our choices. Our selections from each album were wildly different. I think one of the most interesting things about E6 is how they have a "style", but there are so many variations and different facets to it. On the surface it may seem like they are just juvenile "disco rock" (as most music writers put it), but their fans know they are much more than that. Back when I first heard Fire in college I would have never thought that 13 or so years later I'd still be listening to them and have seen them live more than any other band.

Mad.
October 22nd 2016


4674 Comments


I haven't listened to their records apart from Zodiac enough to give you a good ranking but I'm sure Zociac would be my #1.

Listened to some of this today, it was alright but just made me kind of sad that they haven't made any more records with the same genius after Zodiac - that album felt like it had been tuned to perfection, and even felt conceptual at parts with the mentioning of apocalypse, and anti-capitalist ravings on the first few songs, it felt like there was something deeper bubbling under the surface. Such a shame that they seem to have lost that and are content with just churning out mildly amusing but forgettable 3 minute tunes these days

Sevendave
November 25th 2016


33 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ranking these guys is diffuclt as they have so many gems, this would probably change if i did it again in a month or so.



1. KILL

2. Senor Smoke

3. Zodiac

4. Fire

5. Switzerland

6. I Shall Exterminate...

7. Bitch, Don't Let Me Die

8. Heartbeats & Brainwaves

9. Fresh Blood For Tired Vampyres

10. Mustang

11. Human Zoo

12. Flashy



Really difficult to rank though, such a varied discography.

conditionals
December 4th 2016


523 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I've listened to it quite a lot over the last month. It's pretty solid, albeit with some wonky production choices and some absolute clunkers at the end, specifically 'I Got the Box', which falls prey to the usual track-9-is-the-worst filler hole that plagues many lesser albums.

I will say that I fucking love 'The Lover's Pie'. Who cares if it's a blatant rip? It sounds so damn fine and is probably my favourite on the album. I also like 'Greener Pastures', which means I guess I don't agree with the reviewer's picks, even though I agree with the review as a whole.

To join in the ranking fun above:

1. Zodiac

2. Switzerland

3. I Shall Exterminate

4. Heartbeats & Brainwaves

5. Señor Smoke

6. Fire

7. KILL

8. Fresh Blood for Tired Vampyres

9. Flashy

10. Bitch, Don't Let Me Die

11. Mustang

12. Human Zoo

One of the things that sets Zodiac so far apart is that, rather than being stretched thin for ideas like most of their albums, the songs are bursting with so much creativity that most have outros that are completely different songs, while fitting seamlessly. Not to mention that 'Clusterfuck!' is their biggest ever jam.

Mad.
December 4th 2016


4674 Comments


I completely agree about Zodiac, the outros are the best bits

Just wish they could make something else along those lines...

conditionals
December 12th 2016


523 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

BTW I just realised how much DV sings about "blockers" on the first 4 tracks, and then again in 'My Dreams' and 'I Got the Box'. Would love to know what blockers are. Assumedly Lee is a blocker?

It's been a while since he's had such an obsession in his lyrics (e.g: nuclear war/fire on Fire, going bananas on Switzerland, saying "solo" on Exterminate/Flashy).



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