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Captain Audio

Luxury, or whether it is better to be loved than feared

(Last Beat)

Despite the title above, I’d have to postulate that it is possible to be both loved and feared, and hold up this CD as proof. The second album from Dallas’ Captain Audio is definitely worth loving—intending only a cursory first listen, I ended up going through the whole damn thing three times in a row (and then wrote this). But it’s also pretty fearsome, as well; Captain Audio make me afraid in the same way that bands like The Pixies, Brainiac, and Smart Went Crazy make me afraid, simply by sheer force of originality. I find myself listening, dumbfounded, trying to figure out how the heck the world must sound to these folks that they’d come up with something like Luxury.


The disc veers back and forth between styles, ping-ponging off Son Volt country-rock (the incongrously-titled whiskey-fueled roughness of “Velvet”), bombastic glam-rock (“All in the Everything”, which sounds like Brian Eno as revisited recently on the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack), electronic Moog noodling (“Piano Robotico I” & “Piano Robotico II”), and heavy psychedelic rock jams (“Piano Robotico III”, which eschews synths for a guitar raveup and weird, floating vocals). The opener, “Lemon”, stands out as one of the high points, here—it starts slowly, building from street noises to “We Will Rock You” handclaps/stomping to majestic, hypnotic indie-rock, a little reminiscent of Tsunami, but maybe with some Sonic Youth thrown in for fun; then it slowly retreats, quietly breaking back down to nothing. Also standouts are the crazy party track “Preséntame a Tu Novio”, the only bad part of which is when it fades out and then back in twice before crashing to a stop, and “Take It Like a Pill,” which sounds something like the soundtrack song to a high-speed, outer-space Speed Racer.


Throughout, the band never misses a beat, keeping everything humming right along, catchy and infectious as hell. Even when you think the song’s fallen apart, as with “Los Pedasos”, where the whole thing collapses close to the end into fits of sampled, out-of-place guitars, the band pulls it back together for a triumphant reprise and arena-rock fadeout. There are a few “Texas” touches on here, by the way, like songs sung in Spanish and echoey slide guitars, but they’re just enough to establish Captain Audio’s voice as a distinctive one. It’s hard to get a handle on, occasionally, but by the time they get to the brilliant line “you get the silverware, I’ll get the alcohol / We’ll leave ‘em all in pieces,” in the album’s closer “Goodbye Suite”, Luxury is just about perfect.

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