Crème de Menthe The Impossibility of Eroticism in the Suburbs

[Disko B; 2006]

Styles: electronic, club, detached
Others: Kraftwerk, KMFDM, Depeche Mode

A Scottish musician/producer apes the Kraftwerk thang for some social commentary in the '00s? Okay, I'll buy in. After all, that cold-ass techno thang has been burbling along with little irony for quite some time, so I'm good with that. But I'm forgetting something. Wait, it's coming to me. Oh yeah, that Saturday Night Live sketch from the early '90s... was it... Sprockets? Helmed by that maestro of parody Mike Myers? Indeed...

Listening to Crème de Menthe's The Impossibility of Eroticism in the Suburbs, I can't help but slip into a time warp back to Dieter, his monkey, and of course, the "time on Sprockets when we dance." Kraftwerk were obviously the touchstones for the aesthetic of the ostensible German television program — being lampooned for their extremely detached air and plastic veneer. Of course that posturing is the band's own form of commentary, and while the complexities of their compositions were partially obfuscated by their fascistic appearance, the music has survived the best of almost any of their krautrockin' brethren due to it.

It's hard to find such depth with Menthe, and instead, we are left with lots of empty posturing. This may seem like a dig, but truly, it is not meant to be. Surely, Matthew Aldworth (Menthe's given name) is a skilled producer, and I don't mean to question his musical talent. However, where Kraftwerk's social project seems all too clear -- charting the effects of industrialization on man -- Menthe's is a bit muddier. He seems to have a preoccupation with BDSM ("Sadomasochistus" and "Crack the Burning Whip" immediately spring to mind), but the detachment of his execution makes it seem like he's critiquing the practices. Yet, based on the avowed dedication of the album to those who love those practices, it seems like the critical edge may be misdirected.

Given the title of the album, I expected some fun swipes at the stale banality of suburban lifestyles. Unfortunately, Menthe's brush is mostly pointed at those fringedwellers. In the moment most pointed toward the bourgeois, "A Hunger That Never Ends," he does hit a high point, and there is a beacon of what might be should he point his satirical sword at some worthier targets. This may be a promise of what's in store for the future of Menthe (let's hope), but until then, I think I'll stick with Ralf and Florian.

1. Abduction
2. A Hunger That Never Ends
3. Do You Want My Love?
4. Elektrobas
5. Sadomasochistus
6. Destroy the Human Race
7. We're Living in the Night
8. They're Hot
9. Crack the Burning Whip
10. Praom!
11. Plastique
12. Vernichtet Die Menschheit