A Frames: A Frames 2

A Frames
A Frames 2
S-S Records

A Frames are the best robot comedians ever--even Short Circuit's Number 5 in peak form ("Hey Laserlips! Your momma was a snowblower!") can't approach the hilarity of their alternately technophobic and technomanic lyrics like "Super infection/You're in my vein/Thyroid injection/Andromeda strain" from the album opener "Modula." Delivered with a conviction that confirms the solvency of frontman (yes, man) Erin Sullivan's earnestness microchip, 2 is Ted Kaczynski's cabin-fevered rants set to Kraftwerk gone punk, or else it's how a computer must feel as a virus takes hold, each byte slowly succumbing to CP euthanasia.

Technology is all they sing about, but it's unclear exactly how A Frames feel about it. Both 2 and the Seattle trio's self-titled 2k2 debut deal exclusively in Scientific American technospeak, but A Frames reappropriate the geek jargon to matters of the flesh. In "Surveillance," from their first record, Sullivan gently caresses a security camera with loving couplets, and in the 2 standout "Sensation," he confusedly laments, "I've got sensation/Something living in me/Sensation, I don't know how to see/Sensation, I want to feel it again/Sensation that I don't understand," as if his body is rejecting a transplanted organ. Or maybe he's talking about the side effects of that Blaster worm inside him--or else he's just R2D2 asking, "If you prick me, do I not bleed?" No, R2, you leak.

Yet for all the so-serious-it's-goofy posturing and roboticness of 2, the music that A Frames play--pounding (drummer Lars Finberg has Shellac's patented drop beat down pat), aggressive, and mechanical--divulges a sense of tender femininity as Sullivan's voice at times sounds positively Ian Curtis-like. Not to mention that the overly linear guitar riffing apes the Fall playing a hoedown--or maybe just the Country Teasers. Do-si-do, it ain't all ones and zeros. Clangy, perverse, jolting, groovy, mournful, bewildered--all of these words together equal 2, and the square root of 2 is 1.41421356, and multiply that by 15 (the number of tracks) and you've got yourself a damned good time.

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