In doing research for this review, I came upon a term I'd previously heard in passing, but hadn't given overmuch thought to at the time: "twee." The Fleshpeddlers are mondo twee at times; the rest of the time they bust out funky electro. My initial thought was that they reminded me of Devo meets Ween with strong Beck influences, but after some more thought, call this one electric twee-funk. Disposable Pop Songs, the Fleshpeddlers' second self-released album, merges 80s cheese electro with mid-90s limpcore vocals. However, one can try to nail this album down stylistically all day and not quite get it. It's the sort of album that wanders all over the map genre-wise.
The 'Peddlers, hailing from Bloomington, Minnesota, have been around since 1995. Describing themselves as "a garage band with synthesizers," the outfit consists of Todd Millenacker on vox & guitar, Scott "Woody" Woodford, and Kris Verplank on bass; all three do keyboards & programming. Erik Verplank supplies rhythm guitar on the first track. Speaking of tracks, let's take a look:
Emails & Answers - This is your basic downbeat electro-pop, with lots of cheesy electronic effects. The style is vaguely reminiscent of King Missile. The lyrics aren't really understandable; they're too distorted. The track is driven by a heavy bass/xylophone riff with shouted/chanted vocals.
Disposable Pop Song - Just what it says. Super twee from hell, with bass and tinkling synths. As is fairly standard for this album, the vocals are shouted off key and there are loads of silly sound effects.
Wonderfully Gorgeous - This one's fast paced, bouncy twee-funk. Toy-piano synths and fast bass/beat are the rule here. Vocals tend toward your basic wistful whining.
Blighted - A track about being taken advantage of, this is probably the most downbeat track on here. Blighted is pure old-school Detroit electro with silly grunge vocals. Seems like a good breakdancing track (the horror, the horror).
Sacre Ceur - Not quite sure what to make of this one. Acoustic guitar provides bass and melody on this track, with low, severely distorted walkie-talkie style vocals. Heavy treble drums are added halfway through the track, then abruptly go away. What sounds like a radio going on in the background. Other synth instruments are occasionally added (Jew's harp, horns, etc.). It's probably the best track technically, although not that accessible.
Canary - Flanged drums start off this track, followed by basic minor-key synthpop (piano, bass, etc.).
Voyage - This one's upbeat, with heavy drums. The synths provide the melody, which, weirdly enough, sounds quite a bit like the Stones' Satisfaction. Echo effects on the vocals.
Car Wreck - This seems to consist of a protracted vocal whine session accompanied by acoustic guitar. The lyrics seem to have been made up as the song was being recorded. The overall effect is silly, yet annoying. That said, it's a fairly major stylistic break from the rest of the album; sort of a grunge bonus track.
After being a bit skeptical at first, I find myself quite liking this album. It's not even close to this mag's usual levels of bitter & heavy, but has enough twisted humor and fractured charm to be a keeper. Call it a bit of fluff to round out the evening.
Post: The Fleshpeddlers, 8136 Rhode Island Circle South, Bloomington, MN, 55438
Phone: (952) 942-8183