Let's face it: Retro culture is pretty silly. No one will ever recapture a feeling, much less the gestalt, of an entire era with a bygone 'do, ancient pants, or an evocative guitar effect. In music, the best way to play the retro game and not end up a prisoner of your own monkey suit is to send up the silliness with an explosive wink. The B-52's rose above the tailfins-era obsessions of the New Wave years with a smelly fondue of beehives, beach blankets and girly harmonies. Another quarter-century down the road, we have Electric Six to save us from smug nostalgia for the Trans Am age.
If you've seen the Detroit quintet's (yep, five) hysterical video for "Danger! High Voltage," complete with glowing genitals, Victorian get-ups and sex on a stuffed moose, you know they're not here to cater to subtle hipster sensibilities. If nothing on Fire, their debut full-length, tops that single, it's only because the song sums up their shtick so neatly: audaciously unreconstructed disco smashed ass-first into snarling cock rock, and with anthemic refrains -- "Fire in the Taco Bell! Fire in the gates of hell!" -- too gleefully stupid to vie for promo significance. "Electric Demons in Love" and "Improper Dancing" come damned close, singer Dick Valentine riding the rubberized groove of his four-on-the-floor band like the laboratory offspring of a domestic partnership between Falco and Bad Company's Paul Rodgers.
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Add a surfy scorcher, "Gay Bar," that sounds like a tribute to Fred Schneider and the girls, and Fire's 13 tracks add up to actual fun. It's one thing Interpol, The Datsuns and other bands mining nearby territory will never learn from mere homework or VH1 viewing. For Electric Six, the vintage shop is only a stop on the way to the dance floor. -- Andrew Marcus