Electric Six Señor Smoke

[Metropolis; 2006]

Styles: disco, cock rock, novelty rock
Others: Weird Al, The Darkness, Queen + Paul Rodgers, Crash Test Dummies

There is a glaring flaw to novelty music that is next to impossible to shake off. It has a very short shelf life.

So it goes for Detroit's novelty "New Wave, Funk, bathhouse Disco, Garage Punk" five piece, Electric Six. The band has reached its sell-by date with sophomore album Señor Smoke. A record that was officially unleashed upon the American public after having been released in the UK for roughly a year solidifies their place among a lineage of one-hit goofball wonders a la Crash Test Dummies.

Señor Smoke has, since its UK release, failed to attack the charts in the way that "Danger! High Voltage," from debut album Fire, raised eyebrows on both sides of the Atlantic. That song's success was based on two factors. First, it was a surprisingly catchy piece of oddball disco pop laced with decidedly cheesy hard rock guitars, and bombastic to the point of ludicrous vocals. Second, it fit into a long British love affair with completely absurd theatrical pop songs. See The Darkness, Slade or, arguably, the entire post-Faces career of Rod Stewart for an example. The problem with the aforementioned British affair is that it's a one-night stand at best. And the end result for Electric Six, following a steamy night of passion tinged with the hangover of early success and the memory of a long walk of shame home, is Señor Smoke.

Señor Smoke suffers from nothing more then a total lack of discernable hooks to balance out the glaringly juvenile lyrics, cheese-filled synthesizers, and schlock-rock guitar stylings. "Jimmy Carter," with its Backstreet Boys and electric underwear references, is designed to give 8-year-old and only 8-year-old boys a quiet giggle on the playground during recess. "Future is in The Future," with a heavy injection of subtlety and restraint, could, if the band wanted it to, resemble anything by French AM radio pops purveyors Phoenix. But subtlety is not what Electric Six are about, and nowhere is this more apparent than on their cover of Queen's "Radio Ga Ga," a song that should, with its theatrics and sheer anthemic gaudiness, come naturally to the band. Instead, it's a finely executed piece of late night karaoke that encapsulates everything wrong with the remainder of the album.

Queen, with their performance of "Radio Ga Ga" at the original Live Aid, proved themselves adept at producing stadium-unifying pop songs and, even with their gibberish lyrics and over-the-top front man, marked their place in musical history. Electric Six, with Señor Smoke, have instead, even with their gibberish lyrics and over-the-top front man, relegated themselves as a mere novelty footnote to the first half of this decade.

1. Rock And Roll Evacuation
2. Devil Night
3. Bite Me
4. Jimmy Carter
5. Pleasing Interlude No.1
6. Dance Epidemic
7. Future Boys
8. Dance-A-Thon
9. Be My Dark Angel
10. Vibrator
11. Boy Or Girl
12. Pleasing Interlude No. 2
13. Radio Ga Ga
14. Taxi To Nowhere
15. Future Is In The Future

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