You gotta feel a bit sorry for My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. I mean, they started out as a couple of guys who wanted to make cheesy horror films. Instead, they accidentally created a revolutionary band that paved the way for much of today’s chart-topping “alternative” music, music which, in its watered-down form, is now listed in the “mainstream” charts in the back of Rolling Stone. Starting out on the highly influential industrial label Wax Trax!, TKK infused a real sense of humor into a creepy aural aesthetic that mixed equal parts Siouxsie vocal reverb and Tom Jones lounge acoustics. In the process, they pioneered a sound that used clever sampling from their beloved horror films to build dance tracks that sustained many a diet-Goth club over the last 10 years or so.
Still, for all that to their credit, TKK has been severely ripped off, to the point that their own work now sounds repetitive and derivative. To be honest, much of A Crime for All Seasons sounds like a bad Marilyn Manson album. Mind you, I’m not at all sure that there is such a thing as a “good” Marilyn Manson album—only good singles—but the point is that Brian and the boys have managed to appropriate enough of TKK’s signature sound to make TKK themselves sound like they are the ones desperately in need of some inspiration, if not some originality. It’s a shame, really, because TKK’s Groovie Mann and Buzz McCoy are two of the granddaddies of alternative/industrial music—from way back in the day, when it still was alternative—and it would be nice if their music could live up to the high standards that Al Jourgensen set for Wax Trax! in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But it doesn’t.
Still, there are some real bright spots on the album, namely the opening track “Fangs of Love” and the delicious and dangerous “Sexy Sucker.” Both tracks pulse with a kind of drum loop that sucks you in and grabs you by the short and curlies, and both tracks have that unmistakable TKK mix of humor, creep, and straight-up sexiness. A good TKK track can be addictive, and with lines like “Cool sweat / Pop sexy sucker / Super daddy! Psycho foxy, tricky baby…Naughty, wasted, fuckin crazy,” TKK almost guarantee a devoted bunch of young listeners will be erasing lyrics into the front of their spiral notebooks while their older listeners at least blast it from their SUV stereos. Some things change, and some don’t.
But for every “Fangs of Love,” there is a “Feel The Bite,” a song so completely devoid of intensity and originality it sounds like something the band could have used as a studio warm-up. It’s droll and boring, and highlights what has long been one of TKK’s problems: a lack of consistency. Even on their best releases, there are songs that seem strangely distant and out of the loop, and with its lackluster lyrics and uninspired vocal performance, the ethereal, space-agey “Feel The Bite” is A Crime for All Season‘s contribution to the growing pile of TKK tracks that never should have been.
A Crime for All Seasons isn’t a bad album—you could certainly do much worse—but it’s not exciting like older TKK releases were—and still are. A Crime for All Seasons isn’t the next Kooler Than Jesus, and it’s not even the next Sexplosion; it’s a nice, fairly even re-release (it originally had a 1997 release) that will please the die-hard fans who probably already have the original release anyway, and will perhaps entertain, but certainly not wow, any casual listeners. TKK supply their usual stock of irresistible drum loops and just enough of their now-traditional garden variety evil to get the job done. But it sounds rote and uninspired after all these years, and unfortunately, there’s little to set TKK apart from the rest of the brat pack of alternative, post-industrial music. As TKK say, “Evil comes, evil goes.” So do influential bands.