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Boots Electric

Honkey Kong

(Dangerbird; US: 20 Sep 2011; UK: 19 Sep 2011)

Boots Electric: Honkey Kong

Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes shows up with plenty of danceable grooves for the people via this 10-song slab of fun. Opening with “Complexity,” an easy-to-digest three minute platter that doesn’t really add up to much more than Hughes tossing out some cool beats and dashing off the word “shit” a few times, and closing with the rockabilly-ish “Swallowed By The Night”, Honkey Kong isn’t more than some carefree rock ‘n’ roll, nothing more, nothing less.


“Love You All The Thyme” is an appropriately neo-psychedelic-cum-pure pop number that imagines a marriage between Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and, in a weird, weird, way, Rilo Kiley––perhaps it’s the sense of soul and the handclaps that account for the latter. Whatever the case, it’s hard not to shake your hips and stomp your feet over the three-and-a-half minutes that whir by from the track’s first beat until its last.


In an age when everybody’s gotta engage in a little self-mythologizing, it seems only fitting that Hughes would whip out the “Boots Electric Theme”, a dose of sexy sleaze that you can take only as seriously as an elevated terrorist risk warning. It’s the kind of thing those charming English fellows in Cornershop might have done earlier in their career, but then cast aside as too sophomoric for release. Here, that lack of depth and maturity make it an utterly perfect moment.


Despite having a hella tight groove and a soaring, swooping melody, “Dreams Tonight” echoes “Love You All the Thyme” a little too closely for comfort. Perhaps placing the track later in the sequence might have softened the sense of familiarity, and for a second it sounds as though Hughes has run out of ideas far too early in the game. “No Ffun” suffers from a similar problem, although its uncanny similarity to the best material from John Grant’s excellent 2010 album Queen Of Denmark makes the apparent gaffe a little more tolerable.


By the time “Oh Girl” emerges, just after the midway point, the listener is launched into an absolute sense of thankfulness that the magic hasn’t entirely worn out, as the glam-ish stomp and stammer grab the listener by the throat and throttle them like an out-of-tune guitar solo on some long forgotten ‘60s garage rock b-side. The dark and mysterious “Speed Demon”––not a track named because of its breakneck pace––follows and further reasserts Hughes’ power over the proceedings with a swagger that imbues the listener with a sense of drunken pride.


“Trippy Blob”  is a glorious toss-off that calls to mind the more deliciously erratic moments of Harry Nilsson and the succulent sass of peak-era glam rock. “You’ll Be Sorry” may be the closest Hughes gets to absolute sincerity here. Its mild change in comic tone and delivery is a decidedly welcome arrival.


Honkey Kong is the kind of record they used to make––as it recalls the fabulously flawed records of the ‘70s, whether the New York Dolls, the better Stones records, the Stooges or Nilsson. Let’s just say that you’re either in on the joke or you’re not, but if you are, oh, how the joke will make you howl with delight.

Rating:

Jedd Beaudoin is an award-winning writer and broadcaster. He holds an MFA in creative writing (fiction) from Wichita State University and hosts Strange Currency six nights week for Wichita Public Radio. His writing has appeared in No Depression and The Crab Orchard Review as well as at websites such as Ytsejam.com and Amazon.com.


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