Those familiar with the Murder City Devils may recall a song entitled “Lemuria Rising.” That song was written in response to a slag piece in The Stranger by Lois Maffeo, who accused the Devils, the Supersuckers and The Makers of being all style and no substance. In the lyrics, Spencer Moody puts up a toothy defense of his band and the Supersuckers.
But he doesn’t bother backing up The Makers. One listen to Strangest Parade makes it quite clear that The Makers are indefensible.
Not that the group is devoid of credibility; they were at the forefront of the garage rock explosion in the early ’90s. But with their crossover to juggernaut Sub Pop, they shifted toward a more Bowie/T. Rex-inspired form of glam rock.
As flawless and brilliant as Ziggy Stardust may have been, however, part of what made it so great was its cheeky over-the-top abandon. And a bunch of pretty rock ‘n’ rollers just aren’t as fascinatingly bizarre as Bowie-come-Ziggy. Feather boas don’t make for threatening music once James Iha has done it into the ground.
Oh, there are occasional minutes of excellence on Strangest Parade. “Addicted to Dying” pulls no punches in its blazing-lick aggression, while “Suicide Blues” recalls more of a ’60s pop sensibility that is refreshing after the murky and over-instrumented body of the album. And there are times when the band sounds less like conceptless concept rock and more like some street corner psychedelic act, but you’re quickly dumped back into the lead singer’s semi-epic junkie wails and everything seems hackneyed again.
Moody claimed in “Lemuria Rising,” that he’d “rather be a dandy/than another boring girl with an acoustic guitar,” but he forgot to mention the possibility of being a boring dandy.
[DJ Fatkid may not be much of a dandy, but he can get rather boring.]