Ssion: Fool's Gold

Tongue-in-cheek, mirror-ball decadence from art-punk-disco-glam instigator Cody Critcheloe. Fool's Gold is almost as smart as it is dirty.


Fool's Gold

Label: Sleazetone
US Release Date: 2008-02-12
UK Release Date: Available as import

Ssion (pronounced "shun") has been floating around the peripheries of arty dance punk touring with Liars, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Faint, shocking unsuspecting hipsters with a defiantly queer, artistically over-the-top live show. The band, primarily frontman Cody Critcheloe and producer J.A.M., is as much a multimedia project as a musical one -- video, graphic art, drawings and theater are as important to the Ssion experience as the tunes. Indeed, even the obviously low-budget Fool's Gold includes a 24-page, three color insert, with scraps of song lyrics, photography and line drawings. Across media, however, Ssion practices a precisely delineated, whimsically outrageous sort of art, too playful to really offend, but not by much.

The music is inspired by the trashiest sort of 1970s disco, full of cranked out wah wah guitars, percolating synths and exuberantly obscene vocal choruses ("Gee whiz! Street jizz! It more dirty than it really is!"). Yet despite these flimsy trappings, Ssion's music is politically and culturally sharp as a razor. "The Woman" starts with a heavily accented woman's confession that "In the 1960s, I burnt my bra / In the 1970s, I made it with a chick / In the 1980s, I made it with another chick / In the 1990s, I didn't do shit / Now give me my guitar, asshole / I've got a show to play," back with skanky bass and funk-syncopated drums. It's the kind of mindlessly aggressive, up-with-women tirade that you'll soon be sick of if you hang out at all-female web boards, but pushed only microscopically too far into parody. "Clown" by contrast, with its finger snapping, synth percolating opening is like a lost Chic outtake, soaked in sex but prickly with outsider disdain. "You can live in the trenches...or in a house with picket fences," croons Critcheloe, against a vintage 1978 disco beat. It's one or the other but not both, and you can guess which one these gender provocateurs will choose.


The 10 Best Debut Albums of 2009

Continuing our celebration of PopMatters' 20th anniversary, we revisit our 10 picks for the best debut albums of 2009. It turns out our selections were prescient as many of these artists have gone on to storied careers. Travel back to 2009 and see them again for the first time.


The 60 Best Albums of 2009

PopMatters turns 20 years old this October and we're beginning to celebrate our history by taking you back in time a decade ago. Obama was in the White House and the musical times were very good indeed. Revisit 2009 through its best albums.

Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2018 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.