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Lords of Acid: Farstucker

Patrick Schabe

Lords of Acid


Label: Antler Subway
US Release Date: 2001-02-27

Ever since their inception and the release of the single "I Sit on Acid" in 1988, the Lords of Acid have staked their claim in the techno/dance/rock world by bringing a deliberate, campy hedonism to beat hungry partiers. Almost 15 years later, the Lords are something of a cult band of international standing. And that's all in spite of the fact that they continually put out mediocre albums.

Lust, their 1990 debut full-length, gave the world such dance floor favorites as "I Must Increase My Bust"," "Let's Get High", and "The Most Wonderful Girl". The music and the samples/vocals of drug use and over-the-top sexuality were a good fit for the club, but as stand-alone discs they weren't the best of techno by far. It was the release of 1994's Voodoo U that really found the Lords hitting their stride for a moment of unlikely success. Sporting a memorably sexy album cover by "devil girl" cartoon artist Coop and an album's worth of tracks that were not only danceable but listenable, including "The Crablouse", "Young Boys", "Marijuana in Your Brain", and "Blowing Up Your Mind". Ever since, the Lords have been trying to reach that crossover mix of rock and techno, with the heavy helping of sex and drugs, that made Voodoo U a minor classic.

Unfortunately, Praga Khan and crew haven't exactly been full of ideas or innovation since 1994. 1997's Our Little Secret was packaged and marketed as the best yet from the Lords, but actually revealed that the camp had become formula. The songs were generally just bites and permutations of other songs, the lyrical quality stopped being naughty and verged on the ridiculous, and only a few songs ("LSD=Truth" and "Deep Sexy Space") stood out on the album as being worthwhile, or even worthy of the already kitschy Lords of Acid. Yet, despite the lackluster performance on this disc, the cult of the Lords grew, largely as a result of their always fun and twisted live performances. Alternative lifestyles and even porn have increasingly crawled out of the closet and into mainstream consciousness, and with them the Lords have followed, providing a soundtrack to debauchery.

With Farstucker, the Lords of Acid don't deviate far from their norm of providing club music for strippers. Yet they also show Praga Khan, the musical force behind the Lords, branching out into some less-formulaic territory and Farstucker is all the better for it. While not quite as consistent as Voodoo U, this album definitely puts the Lords back on track. The first three tracks ("Scrood By U", "Lover Boy/Lover Girl", and "Rover Take Over") are familiar territory for the Lords and might inspire the dread that Farstucker will be yet another Our Little Secret. But then the looped beats and guitars take a break and give way to surprisingly soulful piano, interspersed with recorded sounds from a lesbian domination scene, on "Pain & Pleasure Concerto". Not music to radicalize the Lords sound by any means, but it's something different, and this is necessary to the continued value of this band. This experimentation continues on the all-jazz instrumental "Take Off" and is revisited later on "Dark Lover Rising" and "Lick My Chakra". Even "I Like It", which could be an outtake from Our Little Secret for all its corny cross-dressing lyrics, is actually surprisingly good because the Lords go for -- gasp! -- a straight Europop treatment! Beginning with a tinny, scratchy chorus that sounds like the theme for a seventies kids show, the sound buttresses its tale of a woman's cross-dressing boyfriend with sunny, bubbly pop music.

These kinds of jolts keep the album alive and not running into the ground of repetition that their last effort trailed into. But don't despair; if you're an old fan of the Lords, you won't be disappointed with other tracks on this record. "Lucy's Fucking Sky" and "Feed My Hungry Soul" are the best dance tracks the band has put out since 1994. Instead of telling camp sex tales from the backs of a cheap porno rag, these songs concentrate on precision beats and heavy synths to great effect. And for those of you who like a little goth with your dance, the combined vampire effect of "Dark Lover Rising" bleeding into "Kiss Eternal" might satisfy your horror movie urges (dig those Nightmare on Elm Street Casio tones!).

If there's a problem with this album, from either the dance floor angle or that of the happy-go-slappy Lords fan, it's that this album is literally all over the place. It doesn't get boring, but it's also ambivalent about any one mood. The churning guitars that Praga Khan has favored since Voodoo U and the Lords' association with My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult are even put into Limp Bizkit effect on "Get Up, Get High". But if there are moments of weakness, there are also moments of surprise, showing that Praga Khan hasn't entirely run out of ideas. And, really, we're not looking for the next classic album that is indispensable to your collection. When it comes to the Lords, we're looking for fun and fantasy, which this album has aplenty. So pull on that rubber dress, grab your strap-on, smoke or drop it if ya' got it, and get ready to boogie.

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