Chicks on Speed
The Rereleases of the Unreleases
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REMEMBER STEPHEN KING'S masterwork of Luddite paranoia, Maximum Overdrive, in which soda machines crushed human skulls with Coke, and can-openers tore equally through flesh and fruit-cocktail tins? Imagine what the climax of that film would sound like as a musical and you can envision the campy, mechanical cacophony of Chicks on Speed. In this spring's debut release, Will Save Us All, this avant-punk conglomerate of three art-school pranksters molded its self-made plug-ins, analog loops, and monotone lyrics into a DIY dream where discarded machines revolt with a little help from their techie programmer friends. After years spent reconstructing art from old magazines into cut-and-paste album covers and life-size "Boob Monster" collages, the Chicks have applied the same concepts to this latest album by rereleasing original singles and outtakes with new songs. The Rereleases of the Unreleases is a mirthful sequel of sonic wreckage, purposely defying any highbrow art mentality in order to dance to the junkhouse rock.
The original tracks on The Rereleases are layered with a phantasmagoria of sound bites, interview clips, backstage musings, and a few bizarre covers ranging from Cracker to the B-52's. It's a tongue-in-cheek assemblage that comes off with the warped and irregular tempo of a melted record. Perhaps the most beautiful new song on the album, "Night of the Pedestrian," could have been a hilarious Flying Lizards spoof if it didn't tick with such a cold synthesizer beat. "Glamour Girl," a revamped tune from the previous album, still stands out as a hilarious parody of a hit single. A digital singer, who sounds like Radiohead's "bigger, happier, more productive" voice doing a stand-up comedy routine, repeats the memorable lyric: "Fashion victim on the air/I shaved off my pubic hair/Sometimes they think I'm a vermin/I've got more faces than Cindy Sherman."
In actuality, the Chicks have only three faces--those of New Yorker Melissa Logan, Munich native Kiki Moorse, and Australian Alex Murray-Leslie--but their album is nonetheless a hydra of fake electronica, melodramatic monologues, and warbled ballads. Straying even further afield than the non sequitur choruses of Le Tigre, Chicks on Speed use absurdism to expose the inner void of postpunk-without-a-cause, reflecting the movement's lack of cohesion through their melodic disjunction. While the musical world is still reeling, this outfit will continue to raise a lo-fi ruckus that could make them the next deus ex machina in the drama of riot grrrldom.