Sex Gang Children

The Hungry Years

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A nearly exhaustive if not perfectly annotated compilation of the band's studio existence in the early '80s, The Hungry Years is a fine starting point for a newcomer as well as a good enough effort for the already initiated. It's probably the easiest way for listeners to decide whether the group would be slightly up their alley or not -- with the dankly beautiful and driving extended version of "Mauritia Meyer" kicking things off, it's a headlong plunge into squealing vocals, post-punk bass moans, and dancefloors laden with incense. Andi Sexgang's singing is definitely the most extreme contribution to the group's sound -- his Marc Bolan fandom is obvious throughout, but more of the early Tyrannosaurus Rex bleating lamb days than anything else. If an acquired taste, he's also dramatic and clearly having incredible fun throughout -- songs like "Shout and Scream," "Beasts," and the herky-jerky "Sebastiane," with high-pitched violin adding to the mania, are crazed and wonderful showcases. Dave Roberts' bass work is very much the counterpoint instrument -- the appreciative liner notes mention a love for Peter Hook, which is obvious but not an exact clone, and his combination of high and low is a keeper. The constant tempo shifts and careening shifts within most of the songs themselves -- due credit for drummer Rob Stroud and his quick work -- give most everything an unexpected complexity, rock songs that rarely sound run of the mill. Two notable exceptions excluded from this collection are "Oh Funny Man," the band's cockeyed tribute to Charlie Chaplin, and the title song itself, a fluky but intriguing duet between Sexgang and Marc Almond, but aside from that this is one heck of a fine disc.

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