There’s something slightly evil brewing just beneath the surface of CHARLATAN, the Victory Records debut from Chicago’s VICTORIAN HALLS. Stealthily working it’s way underneath the danceable pop-rock hooks is a twisted new-wave groove of electronic adrenaline that fuels the album to unexpected heights. In fact, not since THE FAINT released DANSE MACABRE in 2001 has a band in this sonic corner gotten the mix this right.
Girls Kiss Girls welcomes listeners’ ears with just enough of the off-kilter vocals to hook, right before blasting into a straight-up rock chorus followed-up by a thumping dance groove. Burn Me Up Like A Wax-Kissed Letteris by far one of the heaviest songs to present itself, not in a metallic way – but in the way that Refused used to punish their instruments for the sonic pleasures of their audience. A Crush is a Crush may not be the strongest track on the album, but it’s the most tailor-made for the mainstream and a smart choice for the first single from this set.
Into the second half of CHARLATAN there’s quality garage-rock riffage like the Jon Spencer-esque swagger ofLa Di Da, along with a dash of the vaudeville stylings that infected the works of Creature Feature and Panic at the Disco, as evident on tracks like Dear, This is Desperate.
Bottom Line: VICTORIAN HALLS have cherry-picked the finest ingredients from the worlds of post-punk, new-wave, and indie rock to create a tasty cocktail that could easily lead to a quick addiction.