Angel and the Love Mongers

The Humanist Queen

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Knoxville's Angel Zuniga and Eric Nowinski, dba Angel and the Love Mongers, are a duo that recalls the British synth pop duos of the early 1980s, particularly Soft Cell of "Tainted Love" fame. In this regard, singer/songwriter/guitarist Zuniga plays the Marc Almond role, and Nowinski, who is billed as a drummer but also plays other instruments, arranges the songs, and co-produced the record with the legendary Mitch Easter, cast in the supporting David Ball role. Nowinski surrounds Zuniga with clever pop arrangements full of interesting instrumental combinations and choral parts, which only serve to place the spotlight even more precisely on the singer. And Zuniga proves to be a drama queen in a long tradition of self-regarding frontmen including not only Almond but also Bryan Ferry and David Bowie, among many others. It's no surprise that he's a former actor and model, since he seems to sing, in his smooth, rhythmic tenor, as if staring into a mirror, his lyrics full of a sort of theatrical introspection; his emotional turmoil, clearly, is at least partly (and probably primarily) for show. And, as with any star, somehow his vanity is compelling instead of being off-putting. It helps, of course, that the music is so catchy. By the end, when Zuniga wishes for a "Tornado Wind" to pick him up and take him away from his troubles, it's obvious what he has in mind. Like generations of star-struck androgynous young men before him, he wants to be Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

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