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The Garbageman and the Prostitute

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Album Review

Kill Me Tomorrow's The Garbageman and the Prostitute is just one part of the San Fransiscan art-punk trio's conceptual work about a garbageman who might also be a werewolf killing redheaded ladies of the night — a novel and a DVD of short films (which comes with the album) are also part of the project — but it more than holds up on its own. Expanding on the electronics-damaged punk that the band introduced on the Chrome Yellow and Skin's Getting Weird EPs, The Garbageman and the Prostitute is more harshly experimental, but it still displays Kill Me Tomorrow's rare ability to be abrasive and immediate at the same time. Songs like the opening track, "The Best Siren Is a Flesh Siren," certainly bring the noise, with in-the-red vocals and rattling but oddly danceable drums, but there's still enough melody and structure to keep them from completely detonating. Singer/drummer/writer Zack Wentz's low, nasal vocals also anchor Kill Me Tomorrow's chaos; even when he's screaming lyrics like "This is a movie about being f*cked" over drumbeats that border on the industrial, Wentz's voice adds a much-needed humanity that makes the band's music both more human and more thought-provoking than the work of many of its dance-punk contemporaries. Bassist K8 Wince's backing vocals, meanwhile, sound like a contradictory Greek chorus to the strange, stream-of-consciousness tales Wentz spins. Perhaps The Garbageman and the Prostitute's most impressive achievement is the nightmarish, fragmented surrealism that runs through the whole album. On "Tell Me About Your Mother" an androgynous speaker talks about confronting a homeless man rifling through the trash, only to find out that it's his/her own mother; "I Require Chocolate" quotes the Commodores' "Three Times a Lady" among a ruin of brittle drums and guitars; and Kill Me Tomorrow even manages to make Captain Beefheart's "Hot Head" sound like a product of the band's own deranged imagination. At times, The Garbageman and the Prostitute's noise is disorienting, particularly on "Chart of You," which begins with rapid-fire electronics and rubbery guitars, but it never becomes totally overwhelming. Indeed, the album's immersion in angularity and abrasiveness makes the scraps of melody that pop up occasionally, as on "Age of the Shrug," feel like a feast. Equally bracing and imaginative, The Garbageman and the Prostitute is an impressive display of Kill Me Tomorrow's powers, and needs to be heard by anyone who values challenging music.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Kill Me Tomorrow's caustic dance-punk is at first damaging and inebriating. But there is a remarkably catchy core to the songwriting beneath the spaz-out, drilling assaults. The best description for the band's sound might be "noir wave" -- a combination of new wave pop and the dark goth rock of groups like Bauhaus and Joy Division. The band, which toured with acts including Blackheart Procession and the Locust, formed in San Diego in 1998 and eventually settled on a lineup of real-life married couple...
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