Just when you thought they were gone, Belgian electro-industrial artists come raging back with their first new album in over a decade… Much like herpes.
Belgian producer Praga Khan and his menagerie of well-lubricated sex maniacs have been at this electro-industrial thing for over 20 years. True to form, the palette used for Deep Chills, their first album since 2001's Farstucker, would not surprise anyone who was blown away in 1991 by "I Sit On Acid" or scared orgasmic in 1994 by their gold record selling VooDoo-U. In many respects, that's totally fine.
Lords of Acid are legends in the scene. They can't get too far away from what they're known for, which is heavy, industrial tinged electronic music in a variety of styles, matched by a lyrical obsession with the tried and true themes of sex and drugs.
As such, though Deep Chills is a new release, much of it already sounds a little dated, if not recycled. The stadium rock guitar sound in "Sole Sucker" and "Drowning In Ecstasy" is the same all over tracks like "Young Boys" and "The Crablouse" from VooDoo-U. "Drowning In Ecstasy" also has a stripped down version of the 303 line from Josh Wink's classic "Higher State Of Consciousness (Original Tweekin' Acid Funk Mix)" when it starts to go off at the end of the classic aceeed rager. Featuring porn star Alana Evans on vocals, "Pop That Tooshie" is fairly speed garage like, with a warping bassline, Tone Lōc "Funky Cold Medina" guitar punch, and 808 percussion.
"The Love Bus" is the kind of electro drum & bass that John B used to make, with a little surf rock flare on the guitar. With Zak Bagans on vocals, "Paranormal Energy" starts off as a working of "Simon Says" by Pharoahe Monch, but elevates to a punchy breakbeat track with traces of glitch. Most obviously referencing the old, the cover and title of Deep Chills are a throwback to Big Brother & The Holding Company's classic 1968 album Cheap Thrills.
Yet, there are clear and admirable attempts to update their sound. Praga Khan has stepped up his game in the beats department. This is, undoubtedly, the best produced Lord of Acid album ever made. It's pert near pristine.
Aside from the Pharoahe Monch parody, "Paranormal Energy" contains some crisp contemporary drum & bass transitioned by tasteful glitch. "Long Johns" is straight up, raunchy electro house that wouldn't be out of place on a Deadmau5 mix. It's chorus "Daddy has a secret / He wears lingerie" is a guaranteed conversation starter for your next family outing. "Sole Sucker" shows a flash of dubstep's ubiquity with its lumbering beat and sawtooth lead, while "Slip 'n Slide" is the probably the most suiting track to ever be called twee-as-fuck.
"Children of Acid" sounds like the kind of goa-trance Infected Mushroom or Juno Reactor would have been all over in Y2K, with its driving 4/4 beat, hi-hat and snare on opposite beats, that sweet 303 squelch, and the repeated verse "We are who we are / Acid children of the stars / Rave on." This is a song about their dedicated cult following of the same name, the Children of Acid, who kept the LoA candle burning through all the lean years of the past decade. It's clearly more developed than "Lucy's F*ck*ng Sky" from Farstucker.
There are some real misses on the album that negate most of the positive developments made elsewhere. "Hot Magma" is one of the greasiest songs ever, thanks to its "I'm gonna fuck you / I'm gonna fuck you up" refrain. Ode to an 11-inch vibrator, "Little Mighty Rabbit" was an odd choice for the album's first single, as the track doesn't really go anywhere, and the lyrics are oddly straightforward. It's seems fairly tame compared to their hits, though KMFDM gave it more depth with their remix (available on the single release). "Mary, Queen of Slots" is a generally off too, with a bland chord progression and obvious production, while Ron Jeremy ode "Surfin' Hedgehog" is a straight-up surf rock tune a la The B-52s, but not quite as catchy as the masters of the genre.
For the most part, though, the legendary Lords of Acid hit the right mix of humorous and oddly insightful lyrics, full of sex sigils and drug references, with top class Praga Khan instrumentals. The thing is, though, when Lust came out in 1991, the world was still somewhat on the repressed side. The big pop hits of the day were represented by the likes of "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" by C&C Music Factory and "I Wanna Sex You Up" by Color Me Badd. The brazen eroticism of Lust was quite shocking, and it tapped into the side of club music that was bored of vaguely sexual metaphors and nondescript sex pleadings.
In 2012, we live in a post-Jersey Shore/Paris Hilton age. The world caught up and, in many cases, surpassed the aesthetic sensibilities of Lust. Earth is totally DTF and loves to "get it in" whenever possible. Yet, Lords of Acid's lyrics have not kept pace with inflation. There isn't anything on Deep Chills that out-kinks VooDoo-U tracks like "The Crablouse" (an cautionary tale of public lice) and "Young Boys" (an ode to young boys from an adoring older woman). As such, Deep Chills will certainly be enough to satiate the Children of Acid, but it's not likely to get much notice elsewhere.