Electric Attitude, Skintight & Solid Gold
Alright, Electric Attitude, I’ll admit it: you got me. You made it work, and you got me, so much so that I’ve been humming along with the songs on Skintight & Solid Gold in my head for a straight week now.
And to tell you the truth, I was pretty worried. For one thing, I had some pretty serious issues with 2009′s Laser Laser Laser Beams EP, and beyond that, this kind of funky, rough-edged, slinky sound is one that’s ridiculously easy to screw up in the first place; a little too far over the line, and it all turns into a parody, like Har Mar Superstar gone horribly awry.
With this album, though, the band makes it work, and work very well. From the first rubbery, Bootsy Collins-esque bass note of “No One Else” all the way to sleazy, low-down closer “On My Mind,” Electric Attitude swagger and snarl like The Black Crowes if they’d switched mid-career to playing in funk clubs, or maybe like The Rapture with that robotic heart replaced by one swiped from James Brown. All things considered, it’s pretty great.
Granted, it’s not going to be for everybody; singer/guitarist Blake Shepard’s loverman lyrics (and the non-lyrical grunts and “oohs,” to boot) will undoubtedly make some eyes roll, but hey, who cares? Here, I’ll drop a big old spoiler: Skintight & Solid Gold is all about sex. Sex and…um, yeah, that’s pretty much it. So if soulful, gritty funk-rock about getting down and dirty doesn’t appeal to you, you’re probably better off heading elsewhere.
If you stick it out, though, trust me, it’ll be worth the ride. On tracks like “Trouble,” Electric Attitude channel The Meters, bursting through those chorus in a ball of churning, rough-edged rawk, and it’s awesome to witness. Then they shift gears for “Godzilla” and “Nightlife,” transforming into a bumping, yelping nu-New Wave band a la The Killers (if they’d embraced horns over keyboards, that is), and again into almost a rewrite of Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” with “Don’t Walk Away,” which is raw and insistent and confident as all hell.
It’s the horns that really make this work, at least for me. They’re flat-out spectacular, particularly on “Scarlet Harlot,” with its Dap-Kings-gone-rocksteady vibe, and on “Fierce,” which is horn-tinged but pretty much pure bluesy rock ‘n roll nonetheless, and an arena-sized chunk of it, to boot. The horns add a soulful authenticity to Skintight, making it more fully real somehow, like it’s this band you’re listening to in some sweaty, mysterious basement club somewhere, just bumping and grinding ’til the sun comes up again.
Since my last somewhat-disappointing exposure to the band, Electric Attitude have seriously stepped up their game, on all fronts. Not only are they tighter and more focused than they were previously, but the production — which is partly thanks to co-producer Reggie O’Farrell, of The Western Civilization — stellar, completely filling up your skull with that gritty, bouncy, dirty, funky goodness. On the songwriting side, too, they’ve grown by leaps and bounds, crafting songs like “Nightlife” and “Manic,” which are damn near pitch-perfect examples of what a funk song should sound like.
The latter’s the high point here, for me, with its skronking, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis-ish horn intro (I swear, I kept expecting the band to break into “Thrift Shop”) and its frantic, fevered pace. And then, when the band hits the break…well, it’s fucking awesome. It’s catchy and speeding and brilliant, furiously surging like an tsunami about to destroy the beach.
So, you see this right here, this album that’s sitting right there on my desk? This is what I’d hoped this band would sound like, back when I reviewed that last EP four years ago. Hot damn.
(Feature photo by Jason Smith.)