Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

This might be my all-time favorite Pitchfork review. I already dislike this band immensely so this is just another feather in my Louis XIV-hating cap. Love to the Fork for this one:

"Psst, I don't know if anyone knows this yet– it may not even be on Wikipedia– but Louis XIV love to fuck, and apparently they often do so. Just listen to their music. Or read their lyrics. Or look at their album art, watch their videos, play their records in reverse, expose their press releases to an ultraviolet light source, or– well, you get the point. Oh yeah, they also occasionally play rock'n'roll, which I hear is this style of music with an accentuated backbeat or whatever, but that's only to receive inspiration to fuck more. So now that that cat's out of the bag, we turn to follow-up Slick Dogs and Ponies, where apparently the sex sometimes goes bad, or at least grew boring enough to force our lotharios into trying new tricks.

While I hesitate to call Slick Dogs's night vision sex tape cover "deep" or "poetic," following their debut's asscrack-on-bathroom-tile smut, it looks like a freakin' Van Gogh. Fittingly, Louis XIV try pretty hard to pass as artists here, as opposed to distilling classic rock libido into something you can simply inject in your ass. Frontman Jason Hill expresses some pathos here, a tad more profound than the pain of getting an erection while wearing tight jeans, but not far off. For an even crazier conceit, the band decides to actually work for their self-appointed sex symbol status, whether via Electric Six-style stabs at lunkheaded disco or big, dumb, ultra-schmaltzy morning-after ballads.

Single "Air Traffic Control" gets some sleazy mileage out of the aviation metaphor ("Well you were high when I met you"), but overall the track sounds like an unironic plea for help, especially when Brian Karscig's chirpy vocals kick in: "Air traffic control/ I've been gone, I've been up away from home/ Now my gear is down, I'm circling round, and I am coming in." The hushed psychotic thriller "Stalker", a surprisingly subtle, clever song, almost encroaches on Gorillaz territory, with Hill doing a pretty spot-on Damon Albarn impression. Of course, the band hasn't been properly neutered, and they're up to their old shenanigans on piss-drunk stompers like "Misguided Sheep" or "Guilt By Association", the latter announcing, basically, that they're scandalous enough to implicate anyone of breaking the law who's in close proximity to them.

Sadly, while Wal-Mart and Christian censor groups will bristle at these obscene sounds and images, there's really nothing uniquely shocking about Louis XIV, just disgusting or, even worse, plain dull. If they really wanted to ruffle feathers, they'd be championing ideas like "global warming is a myth," not graphic but predictable sex romps or even the half-assed Iraq War rants on "Free Won't Be What It Used to Be" ("March out, soldier, the bugle calls"). The sentimental dimension of Slick Dogs only further depicts Louis XIV as an embodiment of everything American audiences just never "got" about glam rock. They're dazzled by the hedonistic aspects of the genre– the (heterosexual) sex, the drugs, the big guitars– but completely overlook the more complicated nuances. There are no sci-fi or fantasy themes explored here, and certainly no gender-bending. Instead, the slightly more dynamic Louis XIV only give you testosterone-fueled rock at its least appealing extremes: heedless lust or, arguably even more repulsive, cheesy balladry.

Adam Moerder, February 01, 2008