Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Cicada – Metropolis

Former GusGus member finds friends in London…


Chuck Eddy: Not to be confused with The Locust; locusts are actually a kind of grasshopper, like David Carradine. Cicadas, in contrast, specialize in barely competent dance beats under timid vocals.

Talia Kraines: A brilliant single off a stunning album. Perky yet unnerving, and utterly captivating.

Michaelangelo Matos: Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about 1984, my favorite-ever pop year, of which it is the 25th anniversary. To me it’s the high point of pop radio and the underground all at utopian peaks of creativity and relevance in the larger culture, and a lot of it has a bright sheen — synths, of course, but at the very moment before they began to suffocate everything. This record has some of that — the post-new wave moment where hooks and moodiness and guitar licks that seep in rather than batter you down are the rule.

Martin Skidmore: This reminds me a little of Propaganda: moody dancey synth-pop with a rather affectless Teutonic (actually she is Icelandic) female singer. I like the music well enough, and the singing is mostly okay, but it sounds too much like a second division act from 20, 25 years ago. It’s also in want of a chorus.

Hillary Brown: This song makes me think of Berlin (the “Metro” Berlin more than the “Take My Breath Away” Berlin), in its high-pitched repeating elements and icy female vocals at the front of the mix, but it’s maybe a bit too retro, yes? It’s not self-consciously so, necessarily, but neither does it overcome its pastiche frosting.

Martin Kavka: Oh, can’t you feel the alienation of the electro backing, forcing the singer to be a wispy presence as she naïvely attempts to hold on to her sense of self? What? You say you can’t feel anything at all, much less “the alienation wrought by post-industrial society”? Maybe if you yawn, you’ll feel better afterwards.

Edward Okulicz: Certainly makes all the right noises, but the vocal is caught between two stools – is she a robot? is she felt? – and doesn’t really make a particularly convincing stab at either, although the bleeps and sweeps are authentic and interesting. The chorus’s drawn out “scre-ee-ee-eam” makes for a pretty hefty hook, empty as it is, and the overall effect is pretty compelling, if generic.

Ian Mathers: “Metropolis” is too mid-tempo to be really compelling in a dancing sense, and since most of the appeal is rooted in the vocal performance and the chorus you wind up caring more about the singer and the song. It’s not bad, but the bit where they echo her voice and she sings “shout” points tantalizingly to a more interesting route they could have taken.

Anthony Miccio: Nice keyboard hooks, but the singer sounds too tired to be the robot she claims to be. Aggressive autotuning would have not only covered this up, but been thematically appropriate. Get on that, remixers.

Dave Moore: “My Sharona” octaves propel a disaffected electro chanteuse like a Trojan horse to the gates of the chorus, at which point she and her cyborg clones hop out, harmonize, and then bap, bap, bap, bap, bap — it suddenly becomes impossible to resist.

6 Responses to “Cicada – Metropolis”

  1. Definitely prefer ’88 to ’84, mainly ’cause that’s when I saw the Ladies Of Love tour in SF (featuring Judy Torres, L’Trimm, Sa-Fire, Corina, India, and especially Debbie Deb, though it’s quite possible that the Debbie Deb I fell in love with wasn’t the real Debbie Deb, since the real Deb says on her MySpace that they wouldn’t let her tour but would hire an imposter; I need to research this at some point, obviously), but also ’cause the summer of “Welcome To The Jungle,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” beats “Dancing In The Dark”/”When Doves Cry.”

    My favorite pop years are all double digits: ’66, ’77, ’88, ’99. But not ’00, so maybe the crucial feature isn’t double digits but the eleven-year cycle. So maybe we’re due for an astounding ’10.

  2. Well, lots of stuff from 1984 also beats “Dancing In The Dark”/”When Doves Cry” too, for whatever that’s worth. Toss in “Borderline,” “Boys Of Summer,” “Hold Me Now,” “Swept Away,” “Missing You,” “Run To You,” “Out Of Touch,” “Jungle Love,” “If I’d Been The One,” “Foolish Heart,” “Jam On It,” “99 Luftballoons,” “”Round And Round,” “Authority Song,” “Pink Houses,” and “I Want To Know What Love Is” (many of which lack synths, fwiw), and 1988 has a lot to live up to. Though I’m not saying I’d necessarily pick 1984 myself either. (Actually wish I did hear some ’84 in the Cascada song. Don’t remember any hits from that year having vocals so lifeless, myself. Though possibly it’ll improve on subsequent listens.)

  3. Er, not the Cascada song — the Cicada song. (Well, I actually wish I heard more ’84 in both, when you get down to it.) (By the way, I saw my first cicada shell last week. Apparently the show up this time of year in Texas — not sure if that’s a once every seven years thing, or not.)

  4. Wow, I didn’t even realize she was calling herself a robot. I think that’s a first.

  5. Checked this out b/c I didn’t realise they used to be in GusGus. Apparently whoever made GusGus great, it wasn’t any of this lot. And AARGH STOP WITH THE ROBOTS JUST STOP. ENOUGH. If one more fucking cheapo electro act starts blithering about robots [death threat redacted].

  6. ’83 for the win for me, that #1 singles list in the US was BANANAS. Unless it’s ’78 because I remember “Flashlight” and “You Really Got Me” (Van Halen) both debuting on American Top 40 and Casey Kasem talking about Parliament and Van Halen in the same breath was probably what made the world awesome for a while. Or 1959 because Bo Diddley’s “Say Man” was in the Top 20 and that pretty much obliterates everything else ever accomplished. Or maybe 1966 because “Strangers in the Night” got supplanted by “Paint It Black.”

    Haven’t heard the song in question by the way. Flaw in my character.