Tokio Airport

Metal Boys

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Tokio Airport Review

by Thom Jurek

Issued as a companion piece to Acute's glorious reissue of the entire Metal Urbain catalog, this should have remained in the vault. What made Metal Urbain great was their completely unselfconscious disregard for convention and anything that rock & roll had to offer. They might have been conceptual, but they were wonderfully misdirected, and compensated with pure shambolic energy and requisite teen-angst anger. Metal Boys, on the other hand, were a "rebel" cache made up of Eric D├ębris and Charlie Hurbier (pushing thirtysomething) from Metal Urbain with English vocalist China. The first incarnation of Metal Boys -- really the classic lineup of Metal Urbain -- issued no recordings. After two years slogging it out under a number of different monikers, the final incarnation, fueled by crummy synths and toy rhythm machines, recorded some one-off efforts and the album -- Tokio Airport, a collection of anarchic-cum-"serious" political and social commentaries that are laughable for their pretensions and lack of anything remotely compelling. The apologetics that constitute Jacques Amsellem's liner notes attempt to make the music featured here seem visionary, in contrast to what's going on at the beginning of the 21st century, but what isn't? His testament to the band's variety of styles (these included ridiculous attempts at rockabilly and synth pop) is merely another way of saying that Metal Boys couldn't make up their collective mind about what they wanted to be -- except for "weird," man. (Tuxedomoon, Cabaret Voltaire, Chrome, and a dozen other bands did it a lot better without worrying about either their "punk" cred, or whether or not they were "revolutionary" or absurd enough.) What this music, with its hilarious schizophrenic megalomania and the accompanying textual screed do accomplish, is to offer a tawdry and classic example of why most French rock (underground or otherwise) sucked so bad in the aftermath of punk. It simply took itself far more seriously than it had the vision or ability to pull off. First check out Metal Urbain's Anarchy in Paris! sides, then, be amazed at how such an awesome band could fall so far so fast. In the process, you'll realize quickly why punk rock had to self-destruct so quickly -- that is, if you didn't already know.

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