The Critics

MUSIC REVIEWS: Pansy Division, Adrian Lux, La Roux

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That’s So Gay
Pansy Division
Alternative Tentacle

In 1994 Pansy Division released Deflowered, an album with two twinks on the cover and unapologetically sexual lyrics that gave a boner to gay high-schoolers everywhere. Fourteen years later, HIV’s on the rise, Prop 8 passed, and Perez Hilton’s trading jabs with Maggie Gallagher. But while you’d think the forerunners of queercore would have more to sing about than getting patted on the ass by football players, their eighth album, That’s So Gay, leaves listeners sadly limp.

They’re still queeny and angry, but without worthy targets. Only twice do they take on religious and political hypocrites a la mode. In their song “Obsessed With Me” frontman Jon Ginoli sings, “Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, getting caught, getting laid… Forbidden sex has you obsessed, wondering when you’ll be doing it next.” And while other Ramones-influenced bands like The Thermals have successfully created a modern sound out of punk, PD sounds like they always have, except not as sexual nor as revolutionary. In fact, tunes like “20 Years of Cock” and “You’ll See Them Again,” a song about seeing old lovers in the faces of the young, focus on old age rather than the current. These are rambunctious old queens dispensing sagely jewels over a cocktail rather than screaming, picketing queers tired of commercial co-opting and political wedge-hood. Still, PD excels at tongue-in-cheek lyrics and even gain some depth in songs like “Just A Job,” a song about dating a hooker, and “Some of My Best Friends” sung by a straight guy ready to kick some homophobic ass. Ginoli once said, “It’s a pivotal time for the gay community and it would be incredible if our music could play a part in that progress.” Unless they get their heads out of 1994, it never will.

Purchase at Best Buy


Can’t Sleep
Adrian Lux

La Vida Locash

Two unshaven hunks long for each other in the depressing darkness of their apartment, then meet in a kiddie playground for some hot making out. Kinda creepy, but the plot for the video of Adrian Lux’s second single “Can’t Sleep” nonetheless. The video and the song’s unrelenting beat have positioned “Can’t Sleep” as this summer’s hot gay dance club tune. Unfortunately, it sounds like almost every other club song you’ve ever heard. So while the original club mix adds two and a half minutes to the radio edit for more hunting and grinding, you’ll wish you stayed in the bathroom or bar by the time you reach it’s fourth remix. Only Markus Schossow’s 1985 Club remix brings any freshness, by incorporating original synths and beats to delay its choral payoff—the other Swedish DJs just laid some unsurprising, redundant iterations over the already repetitive original.

Stream tracks on MySpace


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Quicksand EP
La Roux

Polydor

La Roux’s androgynous frontman, the red-haired Elly Jackson, is in fact a woman — which makes the electrosynth pop duo’s evocative Quicksand EP much more enjoyable. You see, the 21-year-old Jackson resembles Molly Ringwald, but she radiates the maturity of an epic 80’s electronic veteran: She wields Bowie’s sexual presence, Prince’s lyrical vamping, and the Eurythmics unflinching depth. Backed by veteran producer Ben Langmaid’s cool, sleek, and stabby dance beats, Jackson’s expressive falsetto croons over the frustrating double-edged blades of lust and trust. In the EP’s titular song (video here), she declares “I’m the obsessor holding your hand / It seems you have forgotten about your man… your touch intensifies and I’m in the quicksand.” The third track, “In For The Kill,” she’s a vulnerable hunter searching for an accomplice. La Roux’s EP will leave you hungry for more; luckily their full album comes out June 29th.

Stream tracks on MySpace. Pre-order on Play.com


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Daniel Villarreal‘s novel-in-progress is like the stoned offspring of A Separate Peace and Phantom of the Opera; he’s stuck in San Antonio for now, but attending the Marfa Film Festival just for shits and giggles.