Local Wire

Nouvelle Vague

What to make of the Dead Kennedys' "Too Drunk to Fuck" done bossa-nova style with vocals by Camille, a uni-monikered songbird who twitters like a tipsy socialite? Is this concept, stretched to album length by the production team of Marc Collins and Oliver Libaus, a silly gimmick? A wry bit of pop-cultural deconstruction? Or something in between? Listeners will likely answer these questions differently based upon their vintage (contemporary knowledge of "Teenage Kicks" helps) and the way their affection for punk and post-punk faves manifests itself (contrarians are apt to be amused by a "Guns of Brixton" that sounds like a cheeky nightclub smoker, while devoted leftists who still wear their Clash pins probably won't). In the end, though, the Collins/Libaus opus remains a consistently pleasant listen with a worthy subtext. Sure, transforming "Love Will Tear Us Apart" from the dying wail of a suicidal romantic to a finger-poppin' slab o' Brazil is disrespectful, but so was punk rock's original incarnation. Pretentious former nouvelle-vaguers who've forgotten that need to get over themselves.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently oversees Westword's news blog.
Contact: Michael Roberts