The World/Inferno Friendship Society

Addicted to Bad Ideas

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The World/Inferno Friendship Society delight in exploding expectations. A large free-floating collective that has had more than 30 musicians drift in and out of their lineup since they started playing in 1997, they're a punk rock-based band, but klezmer or music from German cabarets of the 1930s is just as likely to turn up as blistering rock noise or a smoking takeoff on the Pogues or Joe Jackson. The 11 tracks here are a bit more punk and slightly less eclectic than previous efforts, but they're still bursting with musical ideas that go off in unexpected directions. Addicted to Bad Ideas is a concept album inspired by the life and films of Peter Lorre, the timid, pinch-faced character actor famous for playing ne'er-do-wells and criminals in M, Casablanca, and The Maltese Falcon. The disc opens with the fractured "Peter Lorre's Overture," adapted from "Peter Lorre" on Just the Best Party. Swooning strings and unexpected horn bleats make it one of the set's most unlikely tracks, a blend of dark circus music and a boozy German cabaret atmosphere. The rest of the album is driven by punk-based energy, with plenty of unexpected touches. "M Is for Morphine" is full of dramatic orchestral stops and starts, and brings to mind Joe Jackson's late-night pop tunes before it slides into a bridge marked by a long snarling fuzz guitar solo from Lucky Strano. "Ich Erinnere Mich an die Weimarer Republik" sounds like a punk rock version of Cab Calloway's band with Jerry Lee Lewis on piano, and accelerates through an arrangement full of shrieking horns and frenetic keyboard work. "Everybody Comes to Rick's" is a burst of vaguely Celtic punk rock that brings to mind Elvis Costello fronting the Pogues. A relentless punk bassline, furious drumming, and slashing guitar send the track into overdrive. "Addicted to Bad Ideas" is a circus/cabaret waltz that laments the imagined life of Lorre, "a prince with a broken soul," who allegedly became a monster to get revenge on the world. The set closes with "Heart Attack '64," a delirious klezmer waltz that imagines Lorre finding peace and happiness on the last day of his life. The giddy clarinet solo that closes the song, and the album, fills your head with visions bright and dark, leaving you spinning in a dark, intoxicating dance down an empty street.

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