Review

Review

Horrorpops: Kiss Kiss Kill Kill

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10

With curvaceous go-go girls and the '50s pinup-styled Day strumming a garishly painted upright bass.

Review by Gregory S. Burkart

I'm seriously picky when it comes to retro horror-punk and Psychobilly bands who augment '50s and '60s-era pop culture kitsch with horror themes (a style initiated by punk icons The Cramps). There's only a handful who really know how to carry off the sound, the look and the attitude without sounding like tattooed gimmicky wannabes. The Horrorpops enjoy a spot on my short list of favorites because ? despite their name ? they focus less on fulfilling the expectations of the genre formula and devote their energy to writing fun and unique songs that tweak your ideas of what a ?horror band? should sound like. Sure, there's lots of slappy bass, twangy hollow-body guitar riffs and the occasional ?whaa-ohh? chorus to reassure those who like their Psychobilly straight, but there's a lot more going on with this Danish-based trio.

Literally a marriage of the punk/new wave sensibility favored by co-founder/lead singer Patricia Day and the pure Psychobilly sound contributed by her husband, bassist Kim Nekroman (formerly of the Nekromatix), the result is a bubbling brew of punk, ska, surf and sock-hop pop with just a dash of creepy atmosphere for spice, showcased in a kicking live show filled with curvaceous go-go girls and the '50s pinup-styled Day strumming a garishly painted upright bass.

Shortly after making a significant ping on the European musical radar, the band raised their profile even further after an interview in US Vogue and a last-minute booking as the opening act on The Offspring's European tour. Since then they've found international success with the Warped tour and have shared a stage with the likes of Danzig, Rancid and Tiger Army. I first saw them perform on Jimmy Kimmel a few years ago (they were promoting the release of their first album Hell Yeah) and I've been hooked ever since.

The band's third full-length outing is a departure from the relatively low-key sophomore release Bring It On ? this time ?round there's a lot more attention paid to the early '80s New Wave sound, and maybe it's my nostalgia for that period talking, but I'd consider this a really good thing. There's an arch, lascivious tinge to Day's throaty tones that reminds me of the early days of Siouxsie and the Banshees, especially in cuts like ?Private Hall of Shame? and ?Everything's Everything.? It lends an effectively gloomy air to the album's overarching cinematic theme of doomed love, obsession and murder inspired by classic ?40s Noir cinema (with an extra nod to modern flick Thelma and Louise). The only real diversion from this theme comes in ?Boot2Boot,? a fist-pumping punk anthem in that serves as a remembrance of riots which took place in the band's native Copenhagen after the destruction of Youth House, a popular musical hangout for wayward Danish teens.

But just because there's a certain teased hair & black eyeliner vibe going on here, don't think the 'Pops have lost their taste for the real Old School... to prove it we get the rollicking surf instrumental ?HorrorBeach Part II? (the sequel to a track from their first album), the manically danceable and wickedly funny speed-swing tune ?Headed for the Disco?? and the gloomy down-tempo ballad ?Hitchcock Starlet.? There's even a tribute to British ska legends Madness in ?Missfit,? which at one point mutates the melody from ?Our House? into ?My fist/In the middle of your face!?

These twelve cuts display a consistently leaner and meaner production style than their predecessors, all stripped-down and tightly wound, with a bit less flamboyant guitar noodling from Nekroman (with the exception of some wild showboating on ?Highway 55?) and a tight, no-nonsense 4/4 drumming style from Henrik Niedermeier. With a cohesive theme, high energy and hooks galore, Kiss Kiss is the Horrorpops' strongest album to date, and worth checking out.

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