Ultra Vivid Scene

Ultra Vivid Scene

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The first album by Kurt Ralske, a native New Yorker who spent stretches in Boston and London before signing to 4AD, is musically an intriguing and eclectic record that mixes pure pop and noise experiments better than any album since the Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy. (My Bloody Valentine was working similar territory at the same time, but Ralske's fondness for the pop hook, best heard on the first single "She Screamed," was far more obvious.) The difficulties come when one pays attention to the lyrics, which are laughably pretentious in a way rarely seen since Jim Morrison's Lizard King heyday. Heavy-handed religious iconography abounds, as on the other single, "Mercy Seat," and the Nick Cave-meets-Rimbaud pastiche "The Whore of God," and that fave of pretentious gits everywhere, J.G. Ballard, gets a going-over in "Crash." (The Normal's "Warm Leatherette," taken from the same source material, is a much better song; Grace Jones' cover is better still.) Still, ignore Ralske's mopey black-clad high school sophomore-level lyrics, which, luckily, is pretty easy to do since his voice is mixed fairly low, and Ultra Vivid Scene is a pretty interesting record with much to offer.

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