Sunday, October 26, 2008

Famous Monsters - Around the World in 80 Bikinis! (1999)

Little bit of trivia: this is Sean Yseult's project after White Zombie disbanded. These three girls play a simple flavour of surf rock based around camp horror topics. Eschewing complexity or virtuosity, Famous Monsters focus on catchy, fun songs by using common and effective surf riffs alongside spunky chick vocals, and it a point. As a collection of spare songs and live numbers, you can imagine that interest varies. Not due to sound - the recording here is great, with more heft and presence than most studio surf productions. No, the problem lies in the fact that each song is generally a one-trick pony, and some of these ponies were ready for pasture. Songs like "The Werewolf Wiggle" and "Bloody Mary" are irritating and repetitive, relying more on kitschy humour to carry them through.

But really, I can't stay unhappy with this album. While most surf rock that I find is a boring exercise in Dick Dale worship, Famous Monsters actually throw a bit of spirit into it. This album is by no means perfect and you've heard these songs before, but it definitely has its charm. If you're looking to flesh out your surf rock playlist and rock out, I'm sure this will have something for you.

Verdict: Win [4/5] (take with a grain of brains)

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