Electro-Pop Straight From The Playground
Natalie Portman's Shaved Head
Glistening Pleasures is a solid album of full-on razzmatazz, probably the first one I've heard from this Millenium that I could say is an honest to goodness Rock & Roll album. To say that of Electro-pop might seem queer, but let's just say it keeps good company with something like Franz Ferdinand's self-titled debut or the crazed merriment of early Kings of Leon. It's a rocker, through and through. This is the simple and fun energy that won The Ramones fans back in the day, before everyone started using phrases like "back in the day" to connote a landmark in time.
To call this Disco or straight Pop would be to hurl insults at a consummate set list of whimsical, ear-shredding, red-lining digital masterworks. Given these cats are in their teens and playing jazzed-up funkitude of this caliber, it is safe to say that Natalie Portman's Shaved Head can fairly call this their masterpiece because it is unlikely that they will ever produce something with this sort of sordid & jagged hip-gyrating whiplash bop & hump energy ever again.
There is some low-fi gristled frequency at play that's in league with the equally sonic and unrefined rawness of early Black Moth Super Rainbow, but the rest of their synth rhythm eruption blankets it so that it all balances out, cascading through the eustachian tubes with a textured zaniness that pokes at the hypothalamus with come-hither playfulness. Let's dance!
I felt like I was in an improved version of the Eighties by the time "Holding Hands in the Shower" flooded my lobes. And damned if I wasn't clapping until my palms bled and I had worn my teeth down to Pez-sized stubs. My neck is killing me, but we're having fun.
"L.A. Noir" is the stand-out, dropkicking the funny bone with, "Rock mom jeans, too high, too tight. You've got it, hard to play it right." This is it! A rhyme-slinging, lambasting synth-bass orgy of sound mature in its construction and execution and ripe with legend-making ability. Legend-making in its ease at fitting in with the true, breezy, funked up spirit of a summer music roster...if only Mainstream radio would have them. Which I'm sure they won't. Only more reason to seek the LP out.
When Claire England first starts singing, that's when Listener is let loose in the Ball Pit and the seasaw really starts squeaking. This isn't just another male-dominated emo-pop line-up, it's an equal opportunity groove militia and Claire turns you on while making you wish she had been your best friend in high school.
"Hush Hush" is a bouncy sex romp that will be someone's adolescent anthem. Hopefully not just for middle-aged kiddie porn enthusiasts suffering from "Where are they now?" Syndrome.
"Beard Lust" is, hands down, the greatest, bestest, most wonderfulest thing I've heard on the subject of follicles since the title track from the musical Hair. And it's a testament to these little whipper-snappers that they've got humor and musical ability in spades. It's tough enough to be funny, but to do it within the space of three short minutes and with flare and toe-tappage to spare is a feat that deserves an electric razor dipped in bronze.
I like that this album doesn't aspire to be something that it's not and, yet, still manages to champion every sound it attempts, even the soothing tropics. Natalie Portman's Shaved Head have been together since first foaming out of the Seattle Needle in 2005. Hopefully they'll be around for awhile, so we can laugh at them when they try and take off the silly clothes and win a Grammy.