Review Summary: A Forgotten 90s classic.
Brainiac were arguably one of the most underrated bands of the 90s, and undoubtedly one of the most creative. Hissing Prigs in Static Couture was the band's last album before the tragic death of vocalist/keyboardist Tim Taylor in a car accident in 1997. Musically it continued where Bonsai Superstar left off, giving us a dose of weird, noisy and just downright disturbing rock music.
The release of Bonsai Superstar must have garnered some acclaim in the underground of the 90s, so much so that the band signed to Touch & Go records for the release of Hissing Prigs. Touch & Go are one of biggest and most influential independent record labels, along with the likes of Discord and SST, releasing many cult albums by bands such as Big Black, Slint and The Jesus Lizard to name just a few. Steve Albini of Big Black fame even recorded one of the album's songs in "Nothing Ever Changes".
Its difficult to describe Brainiac's sound on this and the preceding album other than a mix of noise rock, post-hardcore and some electronic elements thrown in for good measure. Hissing Prigs has all the trademarks of classic Brainiac with Tim's strange vocal effects encompassing a wide range of styles, and the quirky instrumentation that's always twisting and turning. Any fan of Bonsai Superstar will surely love this album as the formula is largely unchanged. The only real difference is that Hissing Prigs is slightly more rock-based and maybe a bit less "weird" as a result, yet it still contains many of the band's best songs, most notably the hard hitting opener "Pussyfootin", "Vincent Come on Down", "Hot Seat Can't Sit Down" and "I Am a Cracked Machine", which features some of the best use of processed vocals you're ever likely to hear.
Its a real shame that Brainiac were only with us for such a short period, but in that time they created two of the very best 90s rock albums, showing just how weird and out-there rock music can be, in an age where so many were turning to the rather dull grunge sound. Had Tim Taylor not died, the band would have likely continued to innovate and might have even topped this album, who knows. At least we are left with two masterpieces of creativity, that still remain largely forgotten today.