Thursday 23 April 2020

The VillainZ - Sexy & Arrogant (2020)

Country: France
Style: Garage Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 5 Apr 2020
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | YouTube

All that I can find online suggests that the VillainZ (they capitalise the Z at the end for some reason) really want to be in a Quentin Tarantino movie (I'd say Robert Rodriguez, but they're from France). Everything is attitude, their flavour of garage rock riddled with punk and psychedelia, and the very first song they released (the opener on their 2017 self titled EP) is called Fuck You, We are the VillainZ! That's an emphatic statement. And just look at that album cover by Pedro Delort!

I don't even know who does what because the roles given to the band members are "sexy bitch", "arrogant asshole", "sober hippie" and "weed eater". Jess K. is clearly the singer, her whiskey drenched voice twenty per cent poison and eighty per cent sex. But who's providing those machine gun guitars, that prowling bass and those staccato drumbeats? The line up includes Nic K., Tom C. and Kris C., but I have zero clue who's responsible for what.

I wish I did because they're all enjoyable and I like to give credit. I like those guitars because they tend to be jaunty and add a dark edge behind the vocals. They actually do quite a lot across this album, punctuating urgency into Bloody Milk but providing texture to Kill the Light. Everything here is sex and violence, so when Jess K. gets bubblegum sexy on that latter track, even singing the chorus, the guitar gets more dangerous to back it up.

The bass is highly obvious and always delightful. With the guitar working as texture on songs like Nobody and Kill the Light, the bass effectively plays lead and it works really well. Heavily distorted, it sets the scene for Pink Inside like we're walking into a velvet walled sex club then rumbles with a real purpose as if it took a blue pill on the way in. It introduces many of the songs, grounding them, and duets with the guitar on Me & Him Against the World when the guitar isn't duetting with itself.

And I really like the drums. The drummer is very reliable and doesn't really do anything fancy, but delivers real character on every track in addition to the bounce that drives the whole album. How perky are the drums on Kill the Light, which match the vocals. This song is like a bubblegum pop band taking on a Joy Division song and it's gorgeous. Have you guessed that it's my very favourite here yet?

Talking of stylistic clashes, there are quite a few here and they're usually delightful. You Make Me Hot is Transvision Vamp jamming with Twisted Sister in a European club. No Apologies plays like the theme tune to a imaginary TV show that I'm convinced could never be shown on American TV. Sometimes punk here means Blondie and sometimes it means the Misfits, occasionally both at once. Bloody Milk is oddly like a continental garage rock take on Madness that we ought to hear in a club scene in an R rated movie.

I like this a lot and I'm surprised that the band are currently unsigned. I would love to see them live because the energy levels here suggest that they would absolutely kill. The venue ought to be tiny but packed, the stage low with no security in front of it and the ceiling sweating as much as the band and the crowd. I get the impression that a VillainZ show would be a purge of the system and it should be compulsory for everyone who gets out of COVID-19 lockdown alive.

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