Vinyl Bin: Kingdom of Suicide Lovers
Distant Waves (Super Secret Records)
Reviewed by Kevin Curtin, Fri., Aug. 23, 2013
Kingdom of Suicide LoversDistant Waves (Super Secret Records)
Applying dystopian narratives to an equally bleak post-punk pallet, Kingdom of Suicide Lovers crafted a riveting, tonally dark debut. Self-released by the local trio on CD last year (revisit "Texas Platters," Sept. 21), Distant Waves maintained enough presence to merit a new vinyl pressing on ATX imprint Super Secret Records, for which it was remastered in a single-barrel mono blast. Dual vocalists Paul Streckfus (formerly of Nineties art-punks Glorium) and Kelsey Wickliffe take turns trading monotonic verses and uniting for refrains with husband-and-wife synchronicity. Their wiper-blade vocal interplay recalls Exene Cervenka and John Doe of L.A. punks X, as well as – in style more than sound – Fugazi's Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto. Streckfus' grayscale guitar administers thick riffs and ominous voicings that strike, then draw back, making room for Wickliffe's agile bass lines that coalesce with her onetime Faceless Werewolves bandmate Baldomero Valdez's precision pounding. Fear stricken from the start, "Red Tent" portrays an unknown force stalking the confused, marooned protagonist. Soon, in "Capsules," he must flee the planet for the safety of idling in orbit. A relative moment of peace comes with the organ-driven, damaged love song "This Isn't Easy to Say" that hints at the band's name. Additionally, both the title track and "System vs. Factory" pay homage to the bizarre, futuristic works of author Haruki Murakami. For lyrically focused listeners, Distant Waves never lets up, offering subject matter that demands your attention start to finish. For the rare fan of both post-punk and postmodern sci-fi, this album was made for you.