Music Reviews

New Wet Kojak

This Is The Glamorous

Beggars Banquet

New Wet Kojak is a veritable “alt-rock” band that mixes the new wave sound with a jazzed pop vibe, to create a cocktail that sounds like the soundtrack to a nonexistent film. Their last full-length album, Do Things, was one of the strongest of 2000. This Is The Glamorous (god help them) is their follow-up concept album.

Vocalist/guitarist McCloud says, “I’ve been obsessed with the concept of glamour, and what is glamorous, for a long fucking time,” and this album is his cry to the angels on that topic. Will it join its predecessor by making it onto a “best of 2003” list? Well, I wouldn’t automatically exclude it, but it’s certainly not the shoo-in the 2000 record was. It’s just not the same compulsive, irresistible listening experience.

The years away (two of the group are also in Girls Against Boys) have, if anything, increased their instrumental prowess. Unfortunately, it hasn’t done the same for their lyrics. The absurdly deadpan wit of Do Things is less copious here and bons mots in the order of “baby, punxnotdead… and Marilyn Manson is not a pussy… he’s a rock God… with a hot bod,” or “I wanna party hard… like Jean-Luc-Goddard” are sorely missed. Yet, I still love this group and want to hear more from them (in less than three years, I should hope.)

“Death 2 The Pop World” comes closest to the impressive and charming delight of the last record, especially with its humorous introductory sample (god, I miss Pop Will Eat Itself) of a so-called “journalist” asking some flavor of the hour, “Do you ever get tired of being a famous sex symbol?”

The sweet but hot sound of New Wet Kojak’s music (check out “Jealous”) is painfully exquisite in and of itself. Gorgeous songs like “Real World Tonight” color the mental pictures they provide with a kind of wine-colored stain that gives them much of their seeping power. This is music for the mature. Where Do Things sometimes sounds like music for a John Hughes screenplay directed by David Lynch, This Is The Glamorous is leisurely, considered and sounds like thought.

It also sounds a lot like the calm before you get clobbered, sometimes. That’s great, too. This is where a lot of life is lived, and some of us are glad of it.

Those of you who don’t think a record review is a place for political commentary can skip this last part. This Is The Glamorous comes at a time when glamour – that air of allure, romance and excitement – may be exactly what we do not need. Conservatives are currently trying to sell us a glamorous war commanded by a man with an air of (so they tell me) compelling charm.

Delusively, they hope we will forget the civilians (over 50% of them children) we are hurting with our attacks. So maybe its time somebody took a long look through narrowed eyes at the very concept of glamour. Hey…doesn’t sound like a bad idea for a concept album at all. If you like the idea of riding in a limo with a “Supermodel Citizen USA” in whom the cracks are beginning to show, I can only suggest this album as a soundtrack.

Beggars Banquet: • New Wet Kojak:

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