Girls Against Boys

Cruise Yourself

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Having fully made their case with Venus Luxure, Girls Against Boys kept on course with the equally fine Cruise Yourself. The hints of lounge and Vegas were even more explicit here -- the cocktail artwork on the CD, the fact that one particularly bitter number is called "My Martini." Again, though, these weren't the gauche clich├ęs of characters like Combustible Edison, but signposts of a vicious, cutting quality in lyrics and music. McCloud's purring rasp again serves as one of the band's chief qualities, perfectly suited to the sassy, snarling burn of songs like "Cruise Your New Baby Fly Self" and "The Royal Lowdown." Though backing vocals aren't specifically credited, it's Janney adding the high parts here and there, such as the effectively creepy chorus of "Explicitly Yours." Ted Niceley and Janney once again handle the production/engineering combination, and, unsurprisingly, the whole album is a tightly wound effort that sounds like it's going to explode every second. In an interesting switch, and a demonstration of the band's increasing reach, Temple took over the duties with the sampler, while Janney concentrated not only on his own bass work, but organ and vibes as well. "Kill the Sexplayer" was the arguable standout, and while again many critics saw McCloud's slurring sneer as being the new incarnation of Mark E. Smith, that's a lazy connection. McCloud's singing oozes its own attitude, while the band isn't reinventing art/rockabilly as much as finding its own fast, bass-led charge. Certainly, though, the German motorik touches both bands share have their place on Cruise Yourself -- half the time on "Psychic Know-How," Fleisig is laying down a smart Krautrock chug and both Temple and Janney are right there with him, especially with Janney's keyboard glaze. And at one point -- "From Now On" -- McCloud's distorted rasp does for once sound exactly like the Mancunian master.

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