Attack of the Mutant 50ft Kebab

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Ten years after calling it a day, Space returned with their fourth album, Attack of the Mutant 50ft Kebab. The title promises some kind of sci-fi horror show and the record certainly delivers horror, presenting a grotesque amalgam of barrelheaded ska, '60s cinema soundscapes, supper-club pop, B-movie broadsides, and self-satisfied satire all wrapped in a repulsive record sleeve. There are echoes of the Space of the '90s, the winking Brit-pop quartet who deservedly scored a hit with "Female of the Species" -- an evocation of the swinging '60s so effective it played over the closing credits of Austin Powers: International Many of Mystery -- but throughout Attack, they favor Madness, ramping up the ska beat so it teeters on the edge of madness, writing purported character sketches where the quick quip or dirty rhyme ("ectoplasm"/"fake orgasm") means more than the character at hand. Melody takes a backseat to spectacle, where each subsequent bit of reverb or organ suggests a cheapo exploitation flick on the undercard of a grindhouse bill. All this cheeky, cheesy retro-fetishism finds contradictions in Tommy Scott's songs, which take place in a tech-addled present ("Crying on the Webcam," "She's in Love with the Boy in a Bodybag"), or an unnamed future that looks almost exactly like our own time. It's all purposely too much muchness, but intent doesn't make Attack of the Mutant 50ft Kebab easier to take. It's no accident that this record is grotesque -- Space intended for it to be that way.

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