SONIC REDUCER Remember Y2K, the dot-com boom ... electroclash? Born when the 9/11 attacks were but a glimmer in Terror's eye, electroclash flickered into view swiftly, a punk/DIY movement of sorts as every imaginative slut 'n' buck plugged into easily accessible music-making technology via no-band-backtalk laptops. It all climaxed with a 2003 tour and then an electroclash backlash, as associated artists distanced themselves from the tag. Now, much like a sexy, robotic zombie designed to sell booze with sleek chrome boobs, it seems to be clattering back to life, à la the Star Trek franchise or any other once-future-forward artifact from a distant age.
It's been too long. After dance-punk, plain ole electro, Bmore moves, laser booty, bass crazes, and the like, the crass class of 2000 is threatening to strut its kicks 'n' kinks once again. May 5 was apparently ground zero for electroclash's survivors. The man who coined the genre, Larry Tee, returned then with Club Badd (Ultra), and Perez "My Penis" Hilton, Amanda "My Pussy" Lepore, and Princess Superstar on board with him. Fischerspooner came back the same day as well, promising Entertainment (FS Studios) before a May 22 live production at the Fillmore. Casey and company select the path of earnest synth-pop and downbeat soundscape explorations ("Money Can't Dance"), while Mr. Tee's, er, full-length comes off as a "badd" joke or novelty toss-off at best and embarrassing at worst, thanks to its tone-deaf paeans to "Agyness Deyn" and "The Noughties" (sorry to inform Tee that the aforementioned is nearly over). Yet both recordings pale in comparison to another May 5 entry in the mini-revival. I Feel Cream (XL) is the latest effort by an original who creeps into the oddest cultural crannies, from Gap ads to 2003's Lost in Translation: Peaches.
OK, I'm still hot for ex-teacher Merrill Nisker. I cherish those sexy dialed-in giggles over her Itty Bitty Titty Club, back around the time that The Teaches of Peaches (Kitty-Yo/XL, 2000) thrust into view. And I'm rooting for Peaches 40 and onto her fourth long-player to snatch the dance floor crown from Lady GaGa. With her now-well-foregrounded singing and still-girlish-sounding dirty party raps, she's equipped to do it.
Just dance? There's no denying that Peaches is feeling the creamy, gooey fluidity of life beneath the mirror ball, assisted by producer James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco, among others. But her orgies are crammed with sharp edges and jagged corners; the at-times- gorgeous arrangements are preoccupied with candy-hued horror show synth textures, rave airhorns, whinnying house effects, and last-days-of-disco tropes. Yes, Peaches has been busy, much like her album. Teaming with Yo Majesty's Shunda K on "Billionaire" a faux-gold-digger-on-gold-digger track that sounds like the first single off a Gwen Stefani solo missive Peaches concludes with a curdled snarl, "Until they tie the noose /never overproduced." Is the irony intentional?
Half self-aware smartass, half full-blown art babe caught up in the carnival, Peaches has moved from the more politically confrontational Impeach My Bush (XL, 2006) toward the rave era's pacifying teat. The video for the designed-to-be-a-hit "Talk to Me," in which a mohawked Peaches tears at a Dorian Gray-like portrait, daisy-enchained by wiggy Grudge-style spectral waifs, says it all. Most divas Yo Madgesty comes to mind would be content to get the seduction right, but the liberal sprinkling of Peaches' imperfect raps gives you a taste of why she has stood the test of time. She's the dutifully iconoclastic daughter of Madonna. She's also mother superior to legions of raw solo geeks who want to kick it roughly, bravely at center stage.