Arab on Radar
Queen Hygiene II



by The Jungler USER (183 Reviews)
September 23rd, 2006 | 14 replies

Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Arab on Radar is hard to classify. The best I can do is to compare them to a musical hit and run on Sesame Street. Imagine Elmo walking down a street one evening with a bag full of groceries, while an 18 wheeler, going upwards of about 80 miles an hour, speeds up north on the road. The guitar is Elmo muffled scream, the final noise he makes before becoming one with the pavement, not so much a word, but more a squeal of horror and surprise. Let the rumbling bass be like the massive truck flying over Sesame’s many potholes, bouncing up and down in a carefree and almost scary fashion, the kind that will make you grab your children for fear for their young lives. Let the drums be the first blow, the one that sends the shockwaves through the bystanders and skyscrapers, the kind that sounds as bad as it feels, the hit that breaks the skin and leaves behind nothing but fuzz and bits of bone in its wake. And Singer, Eric Paul’s voice? That would be the murmuring of the gathering crowd, nervous, but excited, morbid and hysterical. You see, Arab on Radar is like nothing I have ever seen or heard, a ferocious mass of sound, dripping with sex and drugs and seared with distortion and feedback, shrouded in mystery, but out in the open, for anyone who wants it. Queen Hygiene II comes as fast as it goes, lasting a mere 21:00 or so minutes, but it leaves as lasting an impression as anything.

Arab on Radar is a neo No-wave band. Using the sounds of the 1970’s most rebellious genre as its muse and retaliating against a whole new batch of mainstream punk music. You see No-Wave began as a wholly serious, but extremely goofy retaliation towards the mainstreaminized punk sounds of the late 70’s and early 80’s New Wave genre. The lyrics may not have been a direct attack on skinny white ties and poofy hair, but the graphic, disgusting, snotty sex and violence references make it obvious enough that these guys are angry about something. What Arab on Radar has to be mad about is your guess, but based on their genius band name I’d probably say it has something to do with our country’s attitude towards war. But I guess the most obvious and nostalgic answer would be the explosion of newer “pop-punk” scenes in southern California. And if there’s one thing that Arab is NOT it’s a pop-punk band.

Eric Paul has a voice like a dying canary. Remember that fly character on the early eighties/nineties Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV show? Play that guy’s voice in your head, but on top of a sort of Grind/Indie hybrid of incredibly annoying treble and pounding rhythms and you can probably get a good idea of the kind of fierceness Paul brings to the band. His lyrics are something else entirely. Songs are usually made up of a few quirky, extremely dirty phrases repeated over and over as if on some mission to pound the words into your head. “Her underwear as April showers and I’m pissing on her may flowers” and “Repunzal Repunzal let down your long pubic hair” are just some of the examples of this stupidity/brilliance. But as much as the songs take influence from sex they take about twice that much from substance abuse. Even from afar it’s obvious how much drugs and alchohol it took to make this record. Songs evolve sloppily from intro to outro, with detached guitar squeals and psychedelic bass lines. Each song seems to be glazed over with a fuzzy honey-like substance, making lyrics to hard to decipher and songs harder to listen to.

But for an album that puts so much into being sloppy the production on Queen Hygiene II is fantastic. Examples are hard to find, but perhaps the most obvious is the near perfect drumming on “Cop Song”. About half way through each bar the drumming is reversed for a bit and echoed under the main beat (it’s easier to catch when everything else drops out) giving the whole record a very trippy Pink Floyd-like progressive feel. This brings me to my favorite part of the record, Andrea Fisset’s fantastic drumming. While the guitars add so much more to the record, with their jagged edges and out of time riffage, the drumming on the record is what keeps it together. The melody (or lack there of) is what puts the album so over the edge, but the drumming is what blurs the line between far and too far. Andrea’s drumming is tight, heavy and slightly (hXc) danceable, with original flare and sexy power and prowess.

Over all this record is the modern rock guitar fan’s living, thriving nightmare, a pulsating mix of fruitless, treble attacks (hardly any chords) and bumping, grinding, stomach exploding bass, a No-Wave album for the nineties if I’ve ever heard it. But when listening keep in mind, Queen Hygiene II is not for an every day listen, it’s mood music at an extreme. Even after three or four listens the album begins to loose its shock value and become just an annoying, tumbling mass of bad quality punk music. For the first few listens this album is vile, flamboyant and heavy, but after a while it becomes limp, tired and snotty. The blues tempo indie jam, 99c Lipstick is one of the few songs I can actually see myself checking out in the future, but even that gets pretty bland when put before the annoying buzz of Human (Type 2). Arab come off as an extremely smart, but otherwise ignorant musical enema, but end up (on this CD at least) as a slightly pathetic shell of a band. There are moments here, and I’m fine with that, but heck, but maybe this type of music isn’t for me. 2.5/5


Recent reviews by this author
The Max Levine Ensemble OK SmartypantsAIDS Wolf Cities of Glass
Bloc Party IntimacyThe Cool Kids The Bake Sale
Madvillain Madvillainy 2: The Madlib RemixYip-Yip Two Kings of the Same Kingdom
user ratings (33)

Comments:Add a Comment 
The Jungler
September 23rd 2006


Album Rating: 3.0

Meh, the only cover I could find for this is of the reissue, which also houses one of their other records, Rough Day at The Orifice. If anyone has the cover to the original 1997 release of this please add it.

The Jungler
September 24th 2006


Album Rating: 3.0

The feedback on this review makes me sad.

September 24th 2006


Cool review ;). This band sounds... interesting. Anywhere I can hear some of their songs, like a myspace or something?

September 24th 2006


Review of the week award

January 13th 2008


Album Rating: 3.0

I`ve been slowing getting into these guys.

January 13th 2008


I've always meant to get into this band and The Chinese Stars. Judging from your review, what would be a better place to start?

September 26th 2011


Album Rating: 5.0

Arab On Radar is perfect, the oddness and crazyness of there stage presents its so freaking beautiful.

Iamthe Nightstars
August 6th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

"Molar System" makes me want to dance.

August 6th 2013


sweet bump

July 9th 2014


Album Rating: 3.5

SICK band bros

September 18th 2014


Album Rating: 3.5

this is ridiculously effective for how simplistic it is

Iamthe Nightstars
February 26th 2017


Album Rating: 3.5

So much drama between this band right now.

April 3rd 2017


Album Rating: 3.5

Holy shit this review is old as fuck. Also wrong, this album rules.

June 9th 2017


Album Rating: 3.5


Digging: Stereolab - Dots and Loops

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy