Girls Against Boys

Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby

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Who knows what did the trick -- maybe it was just jumping labels to Touch & Go -- but when Girls Against Boys released Venus Luxure, it was clear that the quartet had really turned into something spectacular. Avoiding the clich├ęs of early-'90s indie rock for its own surly, charismatic edge, Girls Against Boys here kicked out the jams like nobody's business. Ted Niceley helped out Janney with the recording, and together they got an amazing sound out of the band, its now thoroughly bass-heavy approach (Janney was now specifically credited with the instrument along with Temple) brawling like a bastard. A comparison to Flipper could be made, but instead of the generally slow, death-march tempos of that act, Girls Against Boys always keep moving, a dark death dance. McCloud, happily, was now a much more distinct singer, his voice deeper but still attractively ragged and right, whispering or spitting out sometimes cryptic lyrics about emotional confrontation and the vagaries of life. His nods to '60s lounge culture -- a thematic fascination that would grow even stronger over time -- crop up at points here, even if the whole atmosphere is more like Sinatra mean drunk and out for blood, lots of it. The band comes up with music that sometimes echoes it as well; imagine it's midnight at a bar, the lights are low and red, and mean-looking guys in the corner stare menacingly -- that's the spirit informing songs like the slow, threatening "Satin Down" and "Get Down." Janney's abilities on keyboards, meanwhile -- check the abbreviated, looped drones on "Go Be Delighted" -- gave the band an even further edge, unsettled and certainly not like many other bands in its general milieu. Add in some full-on rockers like "Let Me Come Back" and the focused snap of "Bulletproof Cupid," and the result is a stone-cold classic.

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