Spalding Rockwell


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Just when electroclash had become passé, along came Spalding Rockwell and their debut album, Kate, one of the better, less gimmicky electroclash releases yet. The duo of ML and Nikki can easily be slotted between the likes of Peaches, Adult., and Le Tigre -- sassy electro-punk chicks with gritty beats, catchy songs, and the ability to turn a party out. Yet unlike the myriad other electroclash acts who likewise could be slotted alongside the aforementioned standard-bearers, Spalding Rockwell have more than one hot single going for them. Granted, up until the release of Kate that was indeed the case -- they had their long-lasting "White Cotton Panties" single (and also their vocal contribution to Armand Van Helden's "Hear My Name?" single, if that counts) and that was it. Here, though, they have a dozen more or less equally hot tracks with Kate, an album that masterfully straddles the line between electro and punk in each and every song. Plus, the album is mighty succinct, running through its cuts in a brisk and breathless 36 minutes, so the duo's shtick never totally feels like a shtick (if it even is one in the first place). Frankly, it's somewhat surprising that Kate is so consistently well done, because few of these sort of electroclash acts have proved themselves capable of recording strong albums. Even the best of the best electroclash acts -- Peaches and Adult., arguably -- have struggled with the album format. That's certainly not the case with Spalding Rockwell. Kate is a fine album, one that plays not like a collection of singles and filler but rather like a single work of art. If there aren't any particular standout tracks, that's to the album's credit because highlights are aplenty. Kate is one of those rare albums you can play from beginning to end without ever being tempted to reach for the skip button. Were there more Spalding Rockwells out there, the electroclash scene would have more lasting power. There's certainly artistic merit to what Spalding Rockwell have done here on Kate, and it's too bad more similarly styled acts can't produce solid albums like this rather than simply the one-shot hot singles that seem to be the norm.

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