Alien Sex Fiend

Curse

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Starting the 1990s with a totally out-of-nowhere move, Curse sprang to life with a lengthy orchestral blast of hyperbombast and creepiness, "Katch 22." Hearing synth choirs and Wagnerian percussion rolls while Nik spoke portentously had to have thrown just about any longtime Fiend fan for a loop, even when some of the later lyrics had him proclaiming "This good ol' boy is floating around in a bubble...life's a bitch!" Having demonstrated their ability to confound expectations, the four Fiends turned right around and served up one of the band's best-ever slices of electricshockabilly, the slow-burning "Now I'm Feeling Zombiefied." From there on in it's more Fiendish business as usual, just as invigorating, funny and flesh-crawling as always, though it's a much more technological ASF than ever before. Sampling, loops, and nods to hip-hop and dance culture have never been stronger than here, foreseeing Mr. and Mrs. Fiend's increasing fascination with and involvement in techno, albeit very much from an outsider's perspective. Happily, the band's collective fascination with darker and grimier sounds keeps everything from sounding like bandwagons are being jumped. As a singer and lyricist both, Nik very consciously aimed for some different approaches this time around, as with the slice-of-modern-life minidrama "Stress!" and his flatter, sometimes more forceful tones on many songs (most of the time it sounds like he's singing through a distortion pedal). Things certainly aren't all semiseriousness, though -- it wouldn't be ASF if it was! So song titles like "Eat! Eat! Eat!" and "Burger Bar Baby" are in evidence, while one of the CD version's six bonus tracks has the quartet kicking out the jams in a partial remake of the Cramps' "Mad Daddy." Another bonus track, "Radio Jimi," redefines the art of concert ads a la Fiend. It's another fine, fun day with the Fiends, in all.

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