For this one, I blame Brian Ibbott.
The genial host of the Coverville podcast almost always finds at least one track each episode that causes massive secretion in my WTF gland. In #692, it was “Billie Holiday” by Warpaint, which opens with a simple guitar tune and, of all things, the spelling out of the title. Dismissable, perhaps; the Bay City Rollers did the same shtick one Saturday.
But it wasn’t like that at all. A little more orchestration, really lovely three-part harmonies, and about two minutes in, the words seemed awfully familiar. I backed up the track, started again, and yep: Smokey Robinson, via Mary Wells. Clearly the most idiosyncratic take on “My Guy” since Sister Act. Since iTunes was already up and running, I dialed over to the store and found the six tracks of their Exquisite Corpse EP.
“Billie Holiday,” of course, had had a spike in sales, but I figured $5.94 wouldn’t break me, so I bought the entire shebang, and then basically sat there amazed for half an hour: Exquisite Corpse didn’t sound like anything else I’d ever heard. The band’s MySpace page describes them as “Psychedelic / Ghettotech / Melodramatic Popular Song,” and that will have to do for now. By no stretch of the imagination can this be considered background music: the band weaves fascinating sonic textures from deceptively-simple instrumental threads, and the sort of wretched excess that normally draws in the critics is blessedly absent. I’m not even going to pretend I understand all the words: even the stuff I already knew by heart seems inchoate, ethereal and vaguely threatening. While watching the video for “Elephants” it hit me: these are the anti-Mediæval Bæbes, however many centuries in the opposite direction, somehow projected into our own time for reasons unknown. If “beautiful” and “scary” seem to you to be part of the same continuum, you probably heard about this record before I did.
(Reviewed from purchased AAC files.)