[23 May 2005]
As if French and American relations needed to be strained any more, here comes a group from San Diego, California with a name incendiary enough to turn heads on both sides of the ocean. The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower probably don’t give a fuck what either the French or Americans think, and frankly that’s the least of their worries. A visit to their website reveals recent troubles that have plagued the booking of their European tour, particularly through Germany. The band’s penchant for wearing faux SS officer uniforms had started rumors of the group being Nazi sympathizers, though with a band that boasts both Jewish and gay members, nothing could be further from the truth. However, with the release of their sophomore effort Love in the Fascist Brothel, TPTBUTEP will surely leave the controversy well behind them, with one of the finest doses of hardcore punk you’re likely to hear this year.
The group takes the Blood Brothers’ post-whatever structures, distill them to them essentials and marry them to amateur jazz ramblings. The result is a delightfully unholy car wreck that takes more twists in twenty-four minutes than most bands take in their entire career. The songs move along at a quick clip, the majority barely making it past the two-minute mark. But this is no three-chord grind. Perhaps as a challenge to themselves, or a sign of ADD, TPTBUTEP switch gears, add noise, and come to sudden stops, often all within the same song. Mixing equal parts grind, metal, punk and, hell, even swing, TPTBUTEP don’t so much abandon the hardcore playbook as burn it right up. Love in the Fascist Brothel is a compulsive, wonderfully exasperating listen, with each spin of the disc revealing a new lick or blast of notes that may have gone unnoticed before.
The secret to the group’s success doesn’t lie with any one member, but rather in how remarkably well they play together. For a lineup that consists of little more than guitar, bass, and drums, Love in the Fascist Brothel is unrelentingly inventive. Take for example the opening of “Exile on Vain Street”, which finds the group suddenly throwing in a sarcastic, bar room stomp styled riff from “Pomp & Circumstance”, just for the hell of it. And then there’s “Lipstick SS”, which drunkenly lurches with saxophone-drenched free jazz abandon. Or perhaps “Angry Young and Rich” is your cup of tea, with pianos keys rhythmically mashed beneath the churning ruckus. These flourishes aren’t random and make these songs breathtakingly alive. These aren’t the calling cards of wide-eyed rookies scratching the frets for the first time, but the sophisticated touches of seasoned veterans, looking to kick new life into a genre that has its share of run-of-the-mill groups. Not bad for a second album.
The group’s reckless brand of post-hardcore can be disorienting, but luckily, standing tall in the furious center of Love in the Fascist Brothel is lead singer Brandon Welchez. His maniacal sneer—as endearing as it is bratty—anchors the album, providing a focal point that is never dull and continually shifting to match vocally the workout provided by his bandmates, who are certainly no slouches themselves. Playing as if their lives depended on it, Love in the Fascist Brothel owes much of its potency to the inspired squall of its musicians.
It’s perhaps fitting that the album starts with the familiar trumpet melody heard at the beginning of horse races. Love in the Fascist Brothel brings that sense of excitement, energy, and anticipation without ever letting up. The disc is refreshing in its simplicity and awe-inspiring in its delivery. Ranking up there with Converge’s Jane Doe, the Blood Brother’s Burn Piano Island, Burn, and the Dillinger Escape Plan’s Calculating Infinity, Love in the Fascist Brothel is an instant classic that deserves to be discovered.