Heavy chicks, flashy licks and Detroit kicks

Electric Six ALBUM: Flashy LABEL: Metropolis Records When you front a Detroit-based cock-rock band called Electric Six , your only viable life choice is to crank up the volume and never stop shredding. ThatâÄôs what Dick Valentine (yes, itâÄôs a pseudonym) has been doing for the better part of the decade, pumping out five full-length albums since 2003. The only problem with a never-ending aural assault is that it is almost always short-lived. Things tend to happen in one of two (Neil) Youngian ways: the band can burn out, destroying itself from the inside like the Stooges , or it can fade into obscurity, rehashing old songs over and over, leading everyone to believe the band is incapable of creating anything new. Electric Six seems poised to drift into the latter category with their latest release âÄúFlashy.âÄù Valentine gets in some insanely catchy hooks and manages to experiment a little in the process, but in many cases the music sounds a little played out. Songs like âÄúLovers Beware,âÄù âÄúFormula 409âÄù and âÄúFlashy ManâÄù are bland, lacking the raw power that defined the bandâÄôs earlier work. But the biggest criticism of Electric Six over the years has been in regards to their lack of lyrical depth. Valentine has estimated that around 80 percent of the songs he writes are about absolutely nothing and itâÄôs clear when listening to many of the songs on this album. Despite this fact, Electric Six has always managed to infuse a great deal of absurdity into their songs and the lyrics are generally hilarious. 2003âÄôs âÄúFireâÄù is strong evidence for this, specifically the song âÄúGay Bar,âÄù which has Valentine audaciously shouting âÄúIâÄôve got something to put in you/at the gay bar.âÄù Valentine is willing to sacrifice any type of profundity for a couple of comical lines and, for the most part, it is worth it. People searching for Dylan-esque insight should probably look elsewhere. The band attempts to revive the spirit of âÄúGay BarâÄù by titling the opening song on âÄúFlashyâÄù âÄúGay Bar, Pt. 2.âÄù Sadly, it sounds nothing like the original, but does provide the heavy power chords of classic Electric Six. The song has a quasi-western feel, with backing Morricone -styled horns, interspersed acoustic guitars and Valentine growling about his clothing change from black to white. The song isnâÄôt great, but itâÄôs a catchy opening to the album. âÄúFormula 409âÄù extends the opening mediocrity with flavorless riffs and particularly unfunny lyrics. The song is an ode to the eponymous all-purpose cleaner, which according to Valentine cannot only be used for cleaning your kitchen, but can also help take out Palestine and cover up vehicular manslaughter. The song is a good example of a bad Electric Six song; it has no meaning and lacks anything that is remotely inspired. It ends with a classic Electric Six saxophone breakdown, but much of the former vigor is missing. This is not the case with the third track, âÄúWe Were Witchy Witchy White Women ,âÄù which is one of the best on the album. ItâÄôs a frenetic love song written in the first person about two lesbian witches that are hiding out from the cops; itâÄôs a perfect instance of ValentineâÄôs wonderful madness. ItâÄôs hard to not love him when he belts out, in his deep macho voice, âÄúWe were married by the priestess on high/ lesbian lovers âÄòtil the day we die.âÄù âÄúHeavy WomanâÄù and âÄúGraphic DesignerâÄù are both great songs that sound like they came out of the âÄô80s metal scene. Both songs glorify their respective femme fatale protagonists. In the former song, Valentine promises, âÄúyou never want to find yourself trapped in Heavy WomanâÄôs thighs,âÄù while the latter is about a take-charge graphic designer before the song melts into a three-minute flurry of noise. One of the most interesting tracks is âÄúMaking Progress ,âÄù which sounds exactly like an ELO song, but with more pessimistic lyrics. ValentineâÄôs normal swagger is masked by robotic vocals and a lighthearted pop melody. Underneath it all is a song that questions what we assume is progress, while lamenting the troubles of modern living. ItâÄôs one of ValentineâÄôs more meaningful endeavors. âÄúFlashyâÄù never quite reaches the hilarity or the sheer power of âÄúFire,âÄù but does manage to squeeze out a few golden nuggets. The mix of goofy lyrics, thunderous guitar riffs and macho growling gives an effect that is very fun when itâÄôs not wholly redundant. Unfortunately, this quality marks much of the album. One can only hope that its negative aspects donâÄôt signal a transition into the terrible realm of suck.