From the start, there’s something just slightly off about this CD. With a name and cover that conjures the sort of cabaret gothic feel of bands like “The Dresden Dolls,” it was a surprise to hear this band start exploring the farthest reaches of euro-pop synth. There’s a very definite gothic undertone, with deep resonating vocals and music that’s shaped into elaborate electric spirals. At the same time, there’s something flat about it, like all the sound was spread onto a pane of glass. The tempo is impossible to get a hold on, and jerks suddenly from faster to slower. Combine that with the accents of the Hungarian band distorting the English vocals, not enough to render them incomprehensible but just enough to give them a strange vibe, and you wind up with a difficult to classify, dreamlike but intense album that comes off as truly unique and original.
As strange as the base ingredients of Razzmatazz Orfeum are, the final mix works great. “You Raised a Vampire” takes the stripped down synth and creates something that’s vivid, slightly video-gamish, and above all very cool. “When I See You” builds to a towering, screeching guitar finish, and those odd mid-verse tempo changes only serve to make it impossible to tune out.
“Make Me Happy” is another outright terrific song. It’s almost twee in its old-style pop noise, and fuses that with the darker style of the rest of the album to create something that sounds like it belongs here, but takes the emotion to a totally different place. It’s also touched by the same theatric, showy sensibility that is ever present on Razzmatazz Orfeum.
The only glaring flaw on the album is that most of these tracks are just plain too long. Despite the aforementioned theatrical, flashy sense of these songs, most of them are actually very stripped down, both in terms of lyrics and in terms of music, and when they stretch on for more than five minutes, you start feeling that, paradoxically, this vibrant, original album has run out of ideas. Despite how good these songs are, almost all of them overstay their welcome by at least a little.
Ultimately though, this mix of distinctive, over-the-top dark rock and clean, cascading synth just sucks you in. [By: Ryan Simmons]
Release Date: July 21, 2009