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Heavy Angst

 

Two Ton Boa: Parasiticide

Kill Rock Stars, 2006

Rating: 3.5

 

Posted: September 13, 2006

By Peter Landwehr

In 1999, Two Ton Boa released a self-titled EP of dark rock. Now its debut LP Parasiticide is being released by Kill Rock Stars and shows little stylistic change -- Sherry Fraser, the band's frontwoman and sole composer, has remained true to her dark urges in putting together a grim disc of rock for the Goth set.

The band's image isn't subdued: Fraser goes in for eye shadow and black clothing, and song titles like "Serenade For The Crow That Fell" showcase Goth sentiment. But theatricality doesn't make a lyric like "You could swallow them whole / and feast on their invading souls" original, and rhyming "breast" with itself indicates a lack of imagination. Ditto for the three brief musical intros that suddenly break into stomping bass. A playground chant and short piano ditty might sound different, but the identical purpose and segue make them one.

Two Ton Boa invites comparison with the Dresden Dolls, as both Fraser and the latterís Amanda Palmer make themselves out as tough outsider girls who broadcast intimate concerns through first-person songs. But where Palmerís mishaps feel specific to her, Fraser's tales are more generic: the song about the cruelty of other girls, the song about the abusive guy, the songs (two of them) about society and beauty. The anger and cynicism track along such predictable lines that they donít belong to Fraser but rather the outsider she plays. She's less emo than angry, but still just a character.

The interesting thing is that the overarching image doesn't matter. Two Ton Boa sounds good, better and more consistent than both fellow popsters and higher-concept art-rockers. Fraser knows how to sing, and while production adds that irritating sheen to her words, her range of styles (coos, yells, multi-tracked duets) creates a sincere generic rage. And she enjoys herself, brazenly dropping a suggestion that "you could be like Venus / and cop a heavenly stench" like a line from a musical; she would appear to spend nights with a thesaurus and rhyming dictionary. ("I call you Clyde, 'cause you're a mack / In your coat and your pilfered hat / Hunting Bonnies with your rat-a-tat-tat.") The band's sound, heavy with looping bass, drums and embellishments at the choruses like tempo changes, pizzicato strings, keys, and reprocessed vocals, drives the album forward at a steady clip. At 36 minutes, Parasiticide establishes its consistent sound of dissatisfaction through stomping beats and ends before becoming maddeningly repetitive.

In short, the album isn't high art, but it does what it wants with panache. It suggests, in fact, that Two Ton Boa might actually have something in common with not just the Dolls but the Darkness. After all, if that band could bring back the pomp in rock because they were good at it and their love is sincere, well, there might be room up on the stage for Two Ton Boa to try and create its own revival, and to convince teens that being generically angry is better than being generically emo.

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 Ratings Key:
 5.0: A classic
 4.0-4.9: Stellar work
 3.0-3.9: Worthwhile effort
 2.0-2.9: Nothing special
 1.1-1.9: Pretty bad
 0.0-1.0: Total disaster

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