She wants revenge? Um, not to point out the obvious, but the “she” (or, rather, she’s) in question weren’t the ones who printed a bad-humored list of their ex-girlfriends’ names in the liner notes of their album and on the Flash animation that opens their website. But I get it, it’s all part of the schtick. Play music that has the latent homo vibe of electroclash, but string it out on cock-rock masculinity and the walking wounded passive-aggressiveness of emo. The result? Music that “makes girls want to dance and cry.” And maybe, perhaps maybe just put on that floppy white tankini modeled on the album’s front cover by an emaciated waif.
She Wants Revenge is a testament to a time in dance music history when everything old is new again, and yet there’s nothing in their music that doesn’t sound like a strategy or a formula for crafting the perfect come hither for a skuzzy one night stand back at the hotel. If I were a chick, I wouldn’t worry that these guys wouldn’t listen to me or be sensitive to my feelings. I’d worry that they won’t stop babbling about how much I can trust them to listen to me and be sensitive to my feelings. I’d also give serious consideration to some of their song titles: “I Don’t Want To Fall In Love,” “Someone Must Get Hurt,” and “Tear You Apart.”
Produced so that the synths sound like the inside of a vacuum pump, She Wants Revenge‘s tunes suggest a beefed-up Depeche Mode channeling The Cure tapping their inner Ziggy Stardust…and faking their own Jacques Le Cont remix. Justin Warfield (a one-time MC) and Adam 12 (who wears a red “X” over his heart, I guess, to save all those ex-girlfriends the time and effort of finding a treasure map) blanche at the suggestion that they would ever be associated with new wave disco-not-disco revivalism. But I’d guess their fear stems from the prospect of having to untangle all those layers upon layers of pastiche, many of which were pastiches to begin with. At least the original pastiches had an intimate relationship with their sources; Warfield and 12 just wear them like that red “X” or their own well-documented vanguard taste in music.
Scenester to the core, She Wants Revenge’s “Out Of Control” is the album’s best cut, and also its most infuriating. Warfield’s taconite droning (over a crunching, strutting version of Air’s “Sexy Boy” bassline) spins a tale of dance floor seduction in which a hip-swaying, hair-flipping disco diva lures someone who’d be fine dancing by himself into the swirling lights at the center of the room. With the variations of a Tibetan Buddist throat singer, Warfield’s ferociously indifferent delivery manages to convey a reluctant response to club hedonism even as the dundering back-up track suggests he’ll never dig disco as much as his dance partner, nor will he even dig his dance partner as much as he digs dancing with himself. A pretty good microcosm of She Wants Revenge on the whole.