This album started, and I thought I was watching Velvet Goldmine—or living it. It continued, and I thought I was watching one of those western Warner Brother cartoons. It finished, and I wanted to do a shot. Of turpentine.
Take Cake, mate them with Morphine, and put them in a hot little number and you still haven’t mastered the sheer sex appeal and ridiculous, mysterious ways of Like Wow’s third release, Burn, World, Burn. They’re post-postmodern irony joined by all the camp-less-ness of yesteryear—today’s Marilyn who’s hiding a bit something more beneath that blown up skirt.
Thomas Truax’s gruff vocals sear into “Burn, World, Burn,” the album’s jazzy, suave first track. Though a little undercooked production-wise (the whole album never sounds quite loud or put together enough), it intrigues, leaving you both totally ready and thoroughly unprepared for the 11 tracks that follow. Every song thereafter is part paranoid lounge singer, part schizo joke—bouncing and misstepping delightfully through rhythm, style, instrumentation, and key. One second they’re country, the next they’re old time rock and roll, the next they’re just plain weird. (And that’s not to mention the lyrics—funny, freakish, flailing.) “Shakes!,” is a wild, peculiar, and scary audio-Tourettes. “The Haunted Thrift Shop,” is positively spilling over with dirtiness that makes you wanna say, Oww! All I can say is, I’d love to visit whatever world Like Wow were in when they wrote the songs on this album. Whereever it is, it’s fucking twisted, most likely smelly, and probably fun as hell.
Musically, they’ve got the sort of thing going that the difference between success and mediocrity lies in the ability to revel in your own kitsch. Where would They Might Be Giants be without the nasal singing, the dorky jokes, and the gizmo noises? In the same vein, Like Wow needs to step it up a notch. I wish the singing had been a little seedier, the piano and sax a little soul-ier, the drums and guitar a little more exact and a little less fuzzy. I wanted to be filled up with their funky sound, and instead I only got a morsel. I’ve never seen them on stage, but I bet they cinch it; it’d be dreamy to hear that same energy in their studio album.
// Notes from the Road
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