Let’s be clear about something from the start: No one — especially not me — asked for this narcissistic spunk juice. And yet here it is, shimmering with hollow thrills, garish makeup, and the faux swagger of a transsexual named Lola. Glam rock is back, albeit hideously disfigured, in the hands of San Diego-based Louis XIV. Ironic to a fault, their sound is described as homage. Take back their mother’s makeup kits and you’ll discover that despite sharing Ziggy Stardust’s affinity for sexed-up vocals and rock ‘n’ roll suicide, Louis XIV is like sex without an orgasm — just a lot of huffing and puffing.
The album is an impure thought, throbbing behind the devil’s denim like Andy Warhol’s Rolling Stones album cover (Sticky Fingers). At present, when there are so many songs about the modern love, Louis XIV say, “We know what we want done with what lurks beyond our zippers” and that, apparently, is enough to make some people randy.
“Finding Out True Love Is Blind” is an illicit affair drawn out over four minutes in a seedy motel on the outskirts of town. The song is also drop dead sexy and utterly persuasive in its subject matter. There’s some inspired panting, before the lead singer recites his groupie list, but the chorus is laughable. The fact they recruit a sultry vocalist who sensuously moans her way through, “Wind me up and make me crawl to you/ Tie me up until I call to me” makes little difference. That’s the whole album, blunt “Show me yours baby and I’ll show you mine” sexuality sewn around some rock you can dance to.
“Paper Dolls” takes a strum-by-numbers approach to that ’70s glam rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic, rolling out the staple sadomasochist lyrics, “Roll over and do me a trick.” But do you believe it? Can you picture these one of these guys dying after an auto-erotic asphyxiation session gone terribly awry? It won’t happen. They’re poseurs, and these days kitsch Bowie tributes acts get paid well.
“God Killed the Queen” or “Illegal Tender” are dull, ultimately lacking Bowie’s androgynous magnetism. Aside from their “SEX SELLS” attitude nothing elevates this band from the current crop of “IT” bands. I should talk more about the music, but why, the only thing that matters is the vocals and that’s not saying much because Jason Hill’s NC-17 songs leave you with a mean case of blue balls.
A lot of forward-thinking feminists might hate this band, but they might also ask you to play it while denigrating them. It makes sense if you allow that our culture imposes the prevailing — though not necessarily right — sexual attitudes on the masses. Confusion ensues. It’s not Louis XIV fault their inner freak isn’t that freaky. Hell, all they did is find Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust mask, put it on, and remind us that behind every love song lurks an erection. If anything, we should reward them for reminding us that glam rock is dead, and so be it.
While it’s hard to argue against that sort of logic, the album closer (“Ball of Twine”) covers why, in two months, you’ll forget this group. The song starts strong with tumbling guitars and scintillating percussion, unravelling to reveal a lacklustre payoff. Louis XIV might say, “People wantd us to eschew all the awkward shuffling in sex/love songs.” Maybe. When we’re horny and it’s closing time, we want songs to aid our conquests. But I suspect that where glam rock is concerned, we need Bowie’s sexual ambiguity, a Lycra cat suit, or certified mysterious, none of which is present on this disc. Plus, if the talk ain’t nasty, the rock don’t roll ya, and the act ain’t that glamorous, what’s the point of listening to their music anyway? I came to get off.