She Wants Revenge

She Wants Revenge

She Wants Revenge

She Wants Revenge

Geffen/Flawless Records

Of course the musical backbone behind She Wants Revenge, Adam 12, is a DJ. How could he not be? Only a DJ would know to distill the peaks and breaks behind most every great post-punk and new wave and goth dance floor rave-up from the last 20 years and then compress them together, like a black diamond. Spidery, simple-picked metalloid guitar lines meld seamlessly with throbbing, retro synths and a martial drum machine into an irrestistible whole. The machines know how to dance.

Of course the voice and face behind She Wants Revenge, Justin Warfield, is a genre dabbler and re-inventor along the lines of a Madonna or Bowie who never made it –hippie, rapper, Prince– only an inveterate chameleon could throw himself into the persona he created just for She Wants Revenge –a clove-smoking, leather-clad jailbait corruptor (check out “These Things”) who has all the menace of Alan Vega, the defeated monotone of a catatonic Ian Curtis with the cheekbones of Andrew Eldritch and any other hairsprayed young turk you care to mention. Breakup poetry and unabashed longing under the nightclub spotlights whispered in your ear, the faint smell of wine and smoke lingering on the breath.

Of course the members of She Wants Revenge have a few years on the rest of the NYC darlings and they’re aging disgracefully. You’ve got to be the old guy at the club to be able to successfully pull off the poisonous teenage suicide anthems (enough drama and bloodshed and poisoned hearts that it would make Phil Spector proud) that fill the grooves of this platter. Only someone with a lifetime of thwarted love affairs and drunken flings in dark corners can pull off tales of young lust and leather worship. She Wants Revenge soundtracks a bad night at the S&M bar or goth club (and not the nerdy small town ones –no, I’m talking Batcave or Electric Circus) better than most anything I’ve heard.

And sure enough, three seconds into the throbbing Suicide mantra-groove of “Red Flags and Long Nights” and I’m hooked. The key is in the blood-simple repetition of insanely nagging goth-disco flourishes to form one continuous pulse. It’s downcast, neon-lit, clove-scented genius. Every club vamp you’ve never met is going to be using “Out of Control” as “their” club anthem for the next decade, and to that I say more power to them; it’s a slinky vamp with a huge new-wave chorus of chiming guitars, Casio-icy synth stabs and lines about being “slaves to the DJ/out of control.” “Monologue” is death disco brilliance. “Broken Promises” will soundtrack more post-breakup brooding than I even care to imagine — new wave atmospherics (sounding like “She’s Lost Control”), and soaring synths, bolstering near hysterical torment, the type of missing someone where you physically ache, ah fuck, they’re kids, whadda they know, whoops the knives are drawn to the wrists —this is functional music.

“Us” is an unfair song at its core. It’s big, almost too big. If a song this broken-hearted could be accurately called a ballad, yes, this would be their big ballad. It should definitely be a hit single, and it makes people at their shows take out their lighters or cellphones and maybe even faux-lesbian dance (we TRULY HATE that). The hurt in this song should be pulled over you like a blanket to comfort you when surrounded by tear-stained letters, empty wine bottles and This Mortal Coil albums. “Tear You Apart” cops a few moves from The Cure and Joy Division in the extended intro before exploding into a martial, android-lust-in-a-vacuum stomp, with Warfield deadpanning eerily accurate lyrics about high school romance, casual crushes merging into scary, ulcer-inducing physical obsession; it’s all in the little details and retellings of body language and furtive glances. “She Loves Me She Loves Me Not” shares more than a passing resemblance to Bauhaus’s “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” in the verses, but the chorus is overwrought longing that will have arms contorting into agonized poses throughout dance floors.

To write them off as Interpol pretenders is to miss the point entirely. This is a beautiful genre homage from two gentlemen who should know better. “And we could dance….”

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