Accusing them of bombast is to thoroughly misunderstand the Electric Six and their approach -- these guys use bombast as a medium, much as an artist works in oil paints or marble, and on their 11th studio album, 2015's Bitch, Don't Let Me Die, their epic-scale swagger and towering walls of guitars, keyboards, drums, and attitude show they haven't come close to running out of ways to make use of their favorite form. Dick Valentine's lead vocals ring forth with the operatic intensity that has become his trademark (not many singers in this day and age could get away with opening a song with "Hark! He sees the night!"), and the band's purposefully cheesy mixture of arena-ready hard rock figures and walloping but dance-friendly beats still sounds huge and suitable for a certain sort of dancefloor. While there was a dash of pop in the group's formula early on, Bitch, Don't Let Me Die is less concerned with melodic hooks than with more gaudy thrills, though there certainly are memorable tunes here, such as the mock operatic "Big Red Arthur," the manic square-dance rhythms of "Dime Dime Penny Dime," the slightly deranged funk of "If U R Who U Say U R," and "Two Dollar Two," which is built from riffs rescued from any number of hard rock standards. What it all means is anyone's guess, but you'd have to go back to Urge Overkill to find a band that gamed the form/content formula with as much goofy smarts and legitimate enthusiasm as Electric Six, and while Urge Overkill were a shell of themselves by the time they finished their fifth album, Electric Six sound like they're still firmly in the swing of things after 11 albums in a dozen years, and the production by guitarist Johnny Na$hinal is as big and busy as it needs to be. Electric Six are still throwing the biggest and craziest party in town, and Bitch, Don't Let Me Die is the sound of the spiked punch kicking in hard.
Bitch, Don't Let Me Die
(CD - Metropolis / A Special Thing #MET 995)
Review by Mark Deming