Nancy Boy

Promosexual

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Call 'em the Strokes before the Strokes if one likes -- the fashion industry connection certainly doesn't hurt -- but Nancy Boy was its own particular beast of foppish disaffection, as its enjoyable debut album showed in spades. Besides having a brilliant name, Promosexual benefits from not worrying in the slightest about meaning it, man -- Leitch, Nesmith, and company are out to have their own kind of fun and aren't shy about inviting others along for the ride. Even with production legend Shel Talmy on board (and doing a fine job, unsurprisingly), anyone expecting (or somehow demanding) folk-rock would be as disappointed as those who wanted Sean Lennon to sound like the Beatles. Like near-contemporaries Suede (who could have just as easily written songs called "Insecurity" and "Man Inside Your Brain"), Nancy Boy find their kicks in glammed-up decadence. But the emphasis is not only Bolan and Bowie ("Welcome to My World" is a definite nod to the Thin White Duke), but Duran Duran and Gary Numan. The latter is obviously apparent, thanks to a fun (and slightly misquoting) cover of "Are 'Friends' Electric?," but songs like "New Attitude" borrow quite a bit from Numan's crisp early guitar pop experiments. As for Duran Duran, "Johnny Chrome and Silver," the band's signature single, is pure Rio-era pop thrills come to life, thanks to Nesmith's slippery funk guitar hook and Leitch's openly Simon LeBon-pitched vocal turn. Leitch's delivery throughout most of the album is more archly elegant than anything else -- think Adam Ant at his most enjoyably dandyish, with a higher register -- and he comes up with some winning performances. Consider his star-turn on the magnificient album-opener "Gender Bender" (which also benefits from some great low-key backing vocals) and the wonderfully self-obsessed bitchiness of the brawling "Roman Emperor" as two highlights of many.

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