New Yorkers Semi Precious Weapons are Lady Gaga's darlings and regular support band, and their short but forceful second album shows the particular trash-garage-pop spunk that makes her a fan. The wholehearted endorsement of one of pop's most towering figures is a double-edged spike heel–it's a great reference, but it immediately invites negative comparison. SPW can't approach her bamboozling supremacy, but then no one can at present, and they have a certain mucky sparkle of their own.
Superficially–and best believe they're superficial (not that this is necessarily a problem)–they have the delirious whiff of a Bill Bailey Placebo pastiche. Singer Justin Tranter, voice dripping with mascara, attacks every line like a row of apples, spitting arch post-post-punk mouthfuls every which way and apparently sterr-etching his cakehole so a-wyyde-ah that, were it possible, he could fit his whole head in there. Yet past the Darkness-grade absurdity and preening and peacock-poncing there is undeniable ability, and a nose for a vicious hook.
It's deliberately dirty stuff, like the Scissor Sisters improvising in a toilet and like totally doing it, etc. Statues of Ourselves is framed by a chorus of theatrical sex-gasps. The word "sticky" and the verb "to finger" are used to great effect, all so pointedly and moistly and with such relish that when a stray "f***" shows up, it hardly sounds like "f***" at all. Startling ballad Leave Your Pretty to Me is so out of place and so splendidly overblown, with its falsetto peaks and swathes of strings, that it endears them to you. Tender closer Look at Me raises a titter after such an onslaught of genitalia ("Look at me while we do it"–tee-hee!). It sounds very knowing indeed, like a comment on a comment–but it's a consistent pose, and maybe not that far removed from sincerity.
They are exuberantly naughty and flouncy and beastly and flimsy, and this is fine: it's a fun album. Mind you, if you can still get a brush through your hair, wake up before noon most days and are over 19, it's liable to make you feel old.
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