Since Le Butcherettes released Sin, Sin, Sin in 2011, Teri Gender Bender (Terri Suarez) and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez have forged an artistic partnership resulting in two bands: Kimono Kult -- the electro-supergroup that also features former Chili Pepper John Frusciante -- and Bosnian Rainbows. Cry Is for the Flies finds that the extra-curricular activity has focused her vision and voice: it's far more disciplined. Rodriguez-Lopez once again produces and plays bass, and Lia Barnwell helms the drum kit. The off-the rails screaming so prevalent on Sin, Sin, Sin has been (mostly) sidelined in favor of Gender Bender's dramatic singing voice, which recalls both PJ Harvey's and Karen O's. The album's overall sound is less unhinged, but it is musically heavier and more diverse. In addition to guitars, Gender Bender also plays a fair amount of organ and synth. The strident "Burn the Skies" proclaims a desire to rip open and make plain the unspeakable; to turn shame on its head. "My Child" is a harrowing narrative propelled by electro synth, organ, and drums, with Gender Bender exposing the veins of grief -- "My child's sleep has caused all awakening…My child's comin' back/Comin' back from the sea today/Gonna howl the ABC's to her. The ABCeases, ceases, ceases to be my child…." "Your Weakness Gives Me Life" finds her vocal simultaneously emoting passion and rage, as bass, synth horns, and guitars weave around it. "The Gold Chair Ate the Fire Man" suggests the blues inside punk-flavored pop, with an infectious call-and-response vocal. It's one of a number of gloriously sensual militant love songs here. Things get knotty with the delicious post-punk keyboards in the anthemic "Boulder Love Over Layers of Rock." The skittering drum kit and careening organs interact with dramatically stacked and layered falsetto vocals on the searing "Poet from Nowhere." "Calling Out to the Flies" commences with a funereal synth drone, rumbling tom-toms, and a doubled, lead guitar/vocal line; but it's a manifesto and reveals the discovered knowledge that "love is the only way." The contrast between amorous intent and self-awareness is striking; its juxtaposition with the projective dynamic in the music is intoxicatingly effective. While Cry Is for the Flies is ultimately a better record than Sin, Sin, Sin, the outrageous, militant theatrics have been saved for the live show, and in their place on tape are richly detailed, emotionally charged, and revelatory songs nonetheless showcasing revolutionary swagger and an awakened, militant, open heart.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek