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Ghost Orchids, The King is Dead (PrinceHouse)
The Ghost Orchids are a San Francisco quartet that's part of our latest retrobsession with things dark, sweaty, and new wave. Sounding more than faintly like the Faint and fishily like Fischerspooner, but definitely more immature than Adult., they ostensibly want to teach us some important ideas on their debut record that bands of their ilk constantly rehash. To wit: everything is sexy, especially technology ("A Hole in the Speaker" is a great title for a naughty song about audio gloryholes); technology is also very dangerous (for example, you could get "Synthesizer Bruises", a song which also warns us about "headphone blackout" and "drum machine disaster"); and the dancefloor is a place to coldly celebrate polymorphous perversity, with the "Fierce Child" or "The Sensual Woman" of your choice. Listening to this record makes me want to scream, "Haven't we heard these lessons already with this musical accompaniment? Can't we all just move along?" Having said that, though, the band does do some interesting things with their sound, especially in the echo department. "The King Is Dub" works spectral tones through the bones of the title track, and the aforementioned "Hole" joins the sound of crackly vinyl with an insistent drum machine and synthesizer line. And "Nothing Can Hurt You (A Sharper Version)" could be an acid track if you squint your ears a little. It's moments like these where they show more promise than this largely pedestrian album does.
Anthony C. Bleach