Monday, August 20, 2012

Charlie Megira & The Modern Dance Club - Love Police

Confounding! Guitar virtuoso Charlie Megira’s identity is couched in ‘50s greaser/surf nostalgia, rounded out with an Elvis fixation. Half of the material on the double album Love Police is in debt to this, while the other half is a near-comprehensive skirting of the rock genres that have followed: ‘60s garage, ‘70s punk, tongue-in-cheek nods to No Wave, ‘60s heavy/hard rock, ‘80s and ‘90s re-interpretations of the same. It is all done with unnerving verisimilitude. Megira’s ability to deftly transition between styles, in form and historical scope, self-aggrandizes above all else. It creates a kiss-off element, and with “No Wave Exercise” and “Another No Wave Exercise,” he makes sure we know he knows (we know). They are what they claim, yet the album contains at least seven other tracks, without smart-aleck signifiers, that also tread my-kid-could-do-that waters via backwards tracking, radio roulette and some goddamn convincing hazardous Dead C.-esque guitar noise. Love Policebegs to be compartmentalized, and aims to be all inclusive with one-offs like “Existence” (hard rock), “Here Comes Your Mama” (country, swing), “Je Ne Parle Pas Francais” (new wave), and even “Dead Girl Blues” tacked onto the end, although the plug is pulled after 48 seconds (dude, we know you are not serious).

The entirety of the double album would be easy to tack up as to astute post-modern posturing, if it weren’t for a batch of not-so-obvious songs that are actually great. “(used to be…) Psychic Youth” bolsters authentic strain andchilling guitar licks. The heaviness in “Existence” slays any vanity of forbearance, “Valley of Tears” is a wholesome paste-up and “Freak Junior” nearly matches masters like Dinosaur Jr and The Cure. Shame on him if he is having another laugh, and it doesn’t look good – the Psychic Youth branding abruptly ends the most gripping of the bunch with a chuckle, and with slightly melodramatic vocals in light of everything else. I guess he just nailed my brand here, hence why the album is so frustrating. It is not like there is a wealth of smart, effective rock music right now and it’s not like retromania hasn’t already saturated the market. Megira is skilled enough to reproduce any part of it, but seems petrified of authenticity. Paradoxically, the most recognizably manufactured sound on the record, the ‘50s greaser/rocker/surf paraphernalia,is roundabout the most authentic.

A chiasmus of understanding through alterity is drawn once you realize this band is from Israel. In a display of simplistic brilliance, when Ice-T had to defend Body Count to rap purists, he plainly enlightened them to the people’s history of rock and roll; i.e., it was taken from black culture in the first place. Although from where I am standing, where appropriating surf music is about as culturally pointless as covering “Happy Birthday,” Charlie Megira & The Love Police can claim the Body Count defense due to American surf music’s Arabic roots. To top this off, put Love Police against the-only-American-surf-band-to-survive-the-British-invasion’s album of this same year, and it’s clear who should retain the rights. Where is the Dead Sea again?
Elizabeth Murphy

-from Still Single, Dusted Magazine