| Artist: The Barbarellatones|
CD Title: Beyond the Valley of the Barbarellatones
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Blending gothabilly, glam, and alternative pop, The Barbarellatones, largely the project of singer/songwriter Robbie Quine, serve up a strong helping of lyrical quirkiness and stylistically diverse musical fun on Beyond the Valley of the Barbarellatones. Often sporting the typical horror/sci-fi movie themes, Quine's wordplay doesn't always live up to the norm set by his peers (the opening tale of a gothabilly dog that likes the smell of ass, for example, isn't particularly clever or poignant). However, his lyrical work is often far stronger when more heartfelt and less fixated on incorporating horror/sci-fi cliches. Musically, the album is almost universally successful, featuring rather well written, performed, and produced songs with strong guitar work and some interesting instrumentation (the occasional sitar appearance, for instance).
Oddly enough, the disc's real standouts are those that are the least true to the band's apparent roots and image. The swirling ethereal sonar intro, guitar pop melodies, and semi-off-key vocal warbles of "Underwater Dream World" coalesce into one of the best songs here, albeit one that has more in common with…say…vintage The Flaming Lips than gothabilly or glam. "Candy Store" is a similar shimmering guitar pop number with a spectacular chorus and nice sitar work. The lovely "Tarot Cards" and touching "I Killed Love" are topnotch mellow rock offering, the former a moody ballad with Spanish inflections and the latter a bass-driven outing with excellent synth/organ accents.
As for the disc's other songs, the bonus "Cobra Dance", interestingly infused with both Old West and Eastern melodic/instrumental themes, and the plodding "The Fire of Love" are other strong offerings. "Hellbound" is, musically, a good slice of infectious surf rock despite the aforementioned, almost cringe-worthy lyrics. "Gothabilly Gulch" nicely blends underpinning tremolo guitar with tropical guitar slides, while the semi-sleazy, groovy lo-fi rocker "Baby Wants a Corndog" is actually another catchy highlight. The surf rock of "Wicked Wahine" and the slow-paced, topically self-explanatory "Love is a Roadapple" round out the set.
A gothabilly/glam album that's oddly at its best during the moments when it strays the furthest from those genres, Beyond the Valley of the Barbarellatones is something of an odd creature to pin down, a smattering of spectacular pop/rock gems encased within a decent-but-less-noteworthy gothabilly/glam shell. With appeal that will likely reach beyond those drawn to The Barbarellatones' imagery and associated genre labels, it's an album that's stylistically unexpected but all the stronger for it.
The Barbarellatones website: www.barbarellatones.com
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