Dirtblonde’s live shows occupy a space somewhere between genius and farce, with gaunt guitarist Ivan cavorting extravagantly about the place while singer/bassist Lula remains motionless and oblivious. Their 6-track mini album leaves me similarly uncertain. “The Hangmen” is a brilliant opening track, and thereafter the album settles in to a deliberately foggy and sparse sound which contrasts with the punchy opening track. iShotTheDeputy is reliably informed that “The Hangmen” was only included at the insistence of the record company, and it shows. Tracks 2 to 6, recorded in Lula’s kitchen, fit together very nicely. The slower, more atmospheric tracks are the best(“His Name” and “Call it Art”, the latter title perhaps a hint of self-deprecation in an otherwise very earnest piece of work), Lula’s world-weary vocal combining well with a bluesy, fuzzy guitar sound. The band’s weaknesses are highlighted by some of their more up-beat tracks, such as “Snow White”, in which a Ramones-style riff bounces along happily, conjuring visions of hip young things smoking cigarettes in a highly stylised manner.
Dirtblonde’s label is called Filthy Little Angels, and their biggest worry is that there’s simply not enough glam/alienation/Manics/I’m-a-cute-babydoll-staring-meaningfully-into-middle-distance dollar to go around, especially for a band that is willing to handicap itself by using a drum machine and denying itself the raw energy of live drums in a scene that thrives on raw energy. Where they are doing the Jesus & Mary Chain, Dirtblonde do fantastically well. Where they do the Ramones, they sound average. Thankfully the preponderance of the former suggests a band who have for the most part twigged the utter pointlessness of the Top Shop rock genre and have settled on something more rewarding. Given the current trends, however, this could well be their undoing.