Camouflage Heart

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Most of what makes Cindytalk's debut so wickedly engaging is Gordon Sharp's voice. Torturous, howlingly cathartic vocals were nothing new by 1984, but Sharp's exorcistic bellows are unique -- effeminate but not delicate. Oddly enough, the closest early '00s approximation of his ominous voice on this LP is James Maynard Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle). But Sharp's cathartic wails are more damaged and gutter-ridden. The pulverizing "It's Luxury" is lead by incisive guitar riffs that rival Big Black's chain-link fence battering. Bad Seed and Birthday Party member Mick Harvey appears to have stopped by the studio for all of two minutes to lend thudding drums to "Under Glass," which is rife with sax bleats, lumbering bass, and other random BP-isms. When not dabbling in isolationist electronics ("The Ghost Never Smiles," "Everybody Is Christ"), a good amount of Camoflauge Heart is dipped in Birthday Party's harum scarum. But while BP dove headlong into the bacchanal, Sharp shakes his demons with equal lack of abandon into despair. There are a few moments where formless self-indulgence gets in the way, but mostly it's inspired work and ultimately, oddly cleansing.

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