Local Wire

The HorrorPops

The HorrorPops may look like the Cramps, but they're more razor-edged pop than horror. The outfit's parts fit together like Roger Corman's Frankenstein -- not quite as scary as hoped. The Concrete Blonde head of Siouxsie Sioux is stitched onto the torso of Gwen Stefani. Dick Dale's arms are added, and Kat Bjelland's legs are stuffed into two-tone ska shoes. Coming from an act featuring Nekromantix guitarist Kim Nekroman, the Pops' debut, Hell Yeah!, is awfully shy on rockabilly, save for "Kool Flattop," which weds the Stray Cats and Lucinda Williams. The singer/upright bassist, known only as Patricia, toggles between sensual, late-'80s chanteuse and '90s semi-sweet morsel for one of the oddest mixes ever to come out of the Scandalnavian invasion.

"Psychobitches Outta Hell" borrows all the drive of Babes in Toyland's "Sweet 69," minus the explosive release. The unintentionally sexy vocals are more effective here, however, than the cuteness exhibited earlier in "Drama Queen," and the winking guitars make for catchier-than-SARS tunage. Meanwhile, "Miss Take" and "Baby Lou Tattoo" are so fully fleshed out with attractive adornments that they're nearly impenetrable compositions. Even so, fierce back-chanting and string-bending force the proceedings into a dark turn. Singsong delivery, awkward phrasing and flat-out dumb lyrics ("Too much emotional abuse/That's a game we're both gonna lose") cripple "Emotional Abuse." The surf instrumental "Horror Beach" ripples as it closes, ultimately leaving the psychobilly audience confounded.

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Richard Skidmore