Electric Six: Flashy
The Detroit sextet led by vocalist Dick Valentine returns for another album of their trademark genre-blurring musical wackiness. These silly songs are a lot of fun to dance to and laugh at and, while each one has something appealing, as with the past couple of albums there are a few songs that don’t require repeat listening.
No doubt many fans will be excited to see “Gay Bar Part Two,” a sequel to one of the band’s most popular songs, but in typical Electric Six fashion the pranksters screw with expectations as the songs have no connection lyrically or musically, except one time when Valentine sings the title. It’s a weird rocker backed by a spaghetti-western horns.
On “Formula 409” the sax and guitar trade leads as Valentine sings, using plenty of falsetto, on the best song to name-drop kitchen-cleaning products. “We Were Witchy White Women” is a hard rockin’ lesbian love song, which there’s been a damn shortage of considering most sensitive women play acoustic guitars. The keyboards are circa early-‘80s, which adds to the gayness, at least according to the guys from my neighborhood back in the day. “Dirty Ball,” with lyrics as subtle as AC/DC’s “Big Balls,” is “Red Hot Chili Pepper” funky and the rap in the middle sounds like Melle Mel from “White Lines.”
The repeating of phrases in “Your Heat Is Rising” really makes it funny. Valentine epitomizes slackers with, “I didn’t do anything last year/ Except for dreaming of doing nothing this year,” and he gets right to the heart of the matter when the one you desire is involved with someone else with, “Any time you want to leave your lover for me/ Would be a good time to leave your lover for me.”
Most of the remainder of the album is not as strong and, while I won’t play them in heavy rotation, they all are interesting and have good moments. “Lovers Beware” sings about the perils of office romances over music reminiscent of Bad Religion. “Face Cuts” deals with plastic surgery and Hollywood. “Heavy Woman” is sympathetic to the plight of living large. “Watching Evil Empires Fall Apart” opens with an acoustic guitar and, when the rest of the band joins in, the music sounds like it could be the early workings of one of The Cure's songs. The rocking “Graphic Designer” finally brings the females of that profession their own theme song and musically is the standout in the back half. In the dance number “Transatlantic Flight” Valentine lets his lady friend know that, “In the event of a water landing/ You can use my body as a flotation device.”
The album closes with “Making Progress.” Valentine sings through a vocoder, making the lyrics even harder to understand. In fact, that is one issue with many of the songs because Valentine’s lyrics get overwhelmed by the music many times, but part of the fun is hearing something absurd out of the blue that you didn’t realize was there.
Electric Six fans should enjoy Flashy, and while it might not be the best introduction to the band, newcomers who enjoy humor with their music will find it has plenty to offer. According to their MySpace page it “is a beacon of liberty in an ocean of communism. If you love America, you will buy this record.” So what are you waiting for?
Their sense of humor transfers well to a visual medium as shown by their video for “Formula 409”.