By: Eric Greenwood
Bands whose ideas tend to outweigh their talents typically lose any semblance of charm after two records or so, but GoGoGo Airheart has somehow managed to buck that trend over the course of four albums and remain fascinating, despite its seemingly limited means of expression. In generic terms ExitheUXA is an experimental pop record, fusing dub, garage rock, jarring post-punk, and 1970's classic rock riffs into a palpable, if slightly unnerving, amalgamation of freakishly eccentric rock.
GoGoGo Airheart reaches its danceable art-house noise by way of punk's loftier splinterings. Elements of disco and white-boy soul clash with the shrill chords and pansy-ish vocals a la The Make Up. Mike Vermillian's voice is whiny and thin, but he injects enough snottiness and attitude to compensate for its naturally nasal tone. The music sounds equally frail, as the recording quality is deliberately low tech (only four microphones, as the press notes proudly claim). The band's production aesthetic notwithstanding, ExitheUXA has an unique punch that the average "garage" recording lacks.
The music will seem jagged and jarring to first time listeners, but this album is actually far more accessible than much of the band's previous output. GoGoGo Airheart has clearly embraced traditional "rock and roll" values as a forum for its bizarre compositions this time around, as opposed to the off-kilter post-punk and heavily experimental dub of its early work. For GoGoGo Airheart to embrace rock so wholeheartedly is akin to your friendly neighborhood drag queen choosing to wear a bow tie and sear-sucker suit to the Laundromat.
"Sincerely P.S." has an old school garage feel musically, but as Vermillian's bratty voice kicks in, you're suddenly aware that this is a put-on of some sort. No "real" rock band would sound like this on purpose. "My Baby Has A Gang (Sign Our Hearts)" has an organ-drenched retro rock feel like mid-70's-era Bowie. Vermillian even lowers his voice momentarily in an affected Bowie mime, as though he's winking back at you, letting you know that he knows what you're thinking. "Sit And Stare" is the first straightforward rocker, and Vermillian drops the fey twinge in his voice to battle the guitars' testosterone levels.
The herky-jerky rhythm of "Mifi" recalls Mission Of Burma's Vs. album. It's a strangely danceable post-punk rocker, and GoGoGo Airheart sounds comfortable in its skin. "Here Comes Attack" is less obvious in its approach. A dirty, repetitive bassline holds a steady rhythm while the guitar unfurls in varying degrees of intensity. Vermillion's vocals are randomly applied, as he screeches like a trapped animal one moment and hits a shrill falsetto the next. The darkly sprawling "Last Goodbye" reveals considerable depth to GoGoGo Airheart's compositional skills. Discordant guitars duel in a minor-keyed spiral, allowing Vermillion to scale back the histrionics a bit.
With music so strange and so erratic that even a two-left-footed white man would feel like a suave player under its spell, GoGoGo Airheart clearly relishes its utter disdain for conventional musical expression. The influences are worn like patches on a jacket. There's no sense that GoGoGo Airheart lacks direction. It knows exactly what its doing, and it does it very well. ExitheUXA is a challenging record. The type of album most self-proclaimed musicians would ignorantly scoff at with a hollow sense of superiority. I'm not going to lie to you; this is an acquired taste, but once you get it, you'll be hard-pressed to ignore it.