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It's Dark But It's OK

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Album Review

The debut album by the cryptic duo Notic Nastic is several things at once — the soundtrack to their often theatrical live performances, a straight-up dance-pop album that sounds more like an art experiment, and an explosive example of EBM-influenced techno unafraid of big hooks. It's a perfectly timed 2010 release in many ways — with the basic model of neo-synth pop combined with a female singer having become a new orthodoxy in some corners, it's now a question of how that model is twisted or reworked, as an increasing number of musicians demonstrate. Having the album start with an immediate anthem like "Let Go" is a perfect way to grab a listener's attention, while having the follow-up song "Stupid Happy" rely more on stark verses, heavily treated singing, and bass that squelches as much as it grooves. That ends up becoming a good model for the rest of the album, with the lead singer throwing around electronically treated falsetto in ways that suggests Prince's Camille phase as much as it does the modern reign of Auto-Tune. Her breathy tension on songs like "Swifty" and "Sleeptight" show that especially well, while the easier grooves of "Das Disk" are no less entrancing. The simultaneously hilarious and terrifying portrayal of female teenage socialization and power games in "The Luckiest Pig in Albany" makes for her strongest lyrical moment, as well as a good sign that the band isn't simply out for fun's own sake. Meanwhile, frenetic instrumentals like "Kids on Kitten," with its stuttering beats and bass, and the appropriately leeringly titled "Banana Hammock" add to the album's many joys.

It's Dark But It's OK, Notic Nastic
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