Review : Brainiac - Hissing Prigs in Static Couture
TinymixtapesHailing from the mythical land of Dayton, Ohio, Brainiac were produced by Kim Deal, Steve Albini, and Eli Janney (of Girls Against Boys) and opened for Beck, The Jesus Lizard, and The Breeders, among others. From 1992 to 1997, they spit vitriol into the vast ocean of post-grunge bile, creating a discography that stands eternally poised at the nexus of the 90s, both temporally and aesthetically. There was a lot of space to explore in the void between Nirvana and the new millennium, and Brainiac’s body of work suggests a lateral detour that has yet to be pursued to its end. Hissing Prigs in Static Couture (a.k.a. H1551ng Pr1g5 in Stat1c Coutur3) was their final LP and penultimate release due to the unexpected death of lead singer Tim Taylor.
However embroiled the band may have been in their particular cultural climate, they never shared their generational aversion to unabashed flamboyance. After a blurry warm-up track, "Pu55yfoot1n’" cuts loose like a cartoon boogie band riffing on The Sonics’ classic nugget "The Witch." Taylor’s strutting, flippant falsetto doesn’t belong to any frontman lineage known to this writer; Roger Rabbit’s half-brained mania is the unlikely analogue that comes to mind. Other voices that possess Taylor on "Pu55yfootin" and throughout Hissing Prigs include a vaguely German guttural, a top-shelf grunge groan, and a rapey Reznor whisper. Irreverent, snide, insane? Yes to all. And before you can fish your monocle out of your martini — incoming — "Vincent Come on Down" swoops in like a misfiring altbot, the guitar, bass, drums, and moog in disciplined discord. The production is thoroughly post-grunge, but structurally and performance-wise, the song outdoes neo-garage bands like The Hives at their own game before they even thought they had invented it. Taylor’s voices talk over, under, and around each other like a sonic CAT scan of a late 20th century schizoid man. And Hissing Prigs keeps this violent pace for 13 tracks and 35 minutes, slowing only for a few short experimental tracks that act as atmospheric stabilizers....full text
TreblezineThere was a time before dancepunk became mainstream, infiltrated the airwaves and caused teenagers to wear skinny jeans. Les Savy Fav were still merely art students, Foals just pre-teen brats. Franz Ferdinand was still the assassinated Archduke, and LCD Soundsystem the alarm on your Casio watch at lunchtime. Before disco was the venue for panic and before The 1990s was old enough to be a novel name, there was a young Ohio band challenging the underground's propensity for immobility. That band was Brainiac.
Now, to call Brainiac a `dancepunk' band would be wholly inaccurate. After releasing the fantastically deranged art-pop of Bonsai Superstar, Brainiac did inject some energy and power (with the help of Girls Against Boys' Eli Janney) into its follow-up, Hissing Prigs In Static Couture. But this isn't music made for the discotheque so much as the asylum. And not so much for the asylum as from the asylum. In Brainiac's world, things are a little askew, in a wonderful way, but whether or not you dance to their music depends wholly on your definition of "dance." You can writhe, shake, jerk, jump, crawl, squirm or stomp, depending on which song you happen to be listening to at the time.
The album is frontloaded with a jittery, melodic hat trick. "Indian Poker, Pt. 3," with companion piece "Indian Poker, Pt. 2" appearing later in the album, is the best 51 second song in the world, building enough tension and suspense in less than a minute to last an entire album, with the payoff being the climactic and crunchy final 20. "Pussyfootin'" is funky and raw, with Timmy Taylor's falsetto and John Schmersal's guitar grooves driving toward real danceability, though "Vincent Come On Down" contains even more dangerous energy levels, on the verge of explosion throughout its two and a half minute span....full text
AnswersOn their final full-length album, Brainiac move further into the unchartered territory that they explored on Bonsai Superstar, and perhaps because of that, the album seems initially less exciting. However, while they take a somewhat smaller creative step between these two albums than between Bonsai Superstar and Smack Bunny Baby, Hissing Prigs in Static Couture nonetheless offers up a fascinating dose of space-age sound bites, falsetto vocals and chant-along choruses. The opening four tracks are astounding, especially "Pussyfootin'" and the loopy "This Little Piggy." The middle of the album drags a bit, but it comes to a blistering conclusion with "Nothing Ever Changes" (recorded by Steve Albini) and "I Am a Cracked Machine." ~ Brian Christopher Egan, All Music Guide...full text
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