Slapp Happy

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Slapp Happy's debut unveiled a band that was not so much an avant-rock group as one that seemed primarily interested in toying with rock conventions, as if such subversion was more inherently worthwhile than playing it straight. That meant that at its least impressive, it didn't qualify as either good avant-rock or good conventional rock, instead lumbering along with self-consciously jagged tunes. It sounds best when Dagmar Krause's vocals come to the forefront, as on "Heading for Kyoto" and the downright poppy "Blue Flower," a pretty folk-rockish number that lifts a hook from the Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale." "Who's Gonna Help Me Now?" is strange roots-rock, and "Sort Of" a surfish instrumental that sounds like a postmodern "Telstar," all contributing to the feeling that the band was more concerned with tongue-in-cheek eclecticism than moving toward a settled identity.

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