Voodoo by Kill Your BoyfriendRelease date: October 14, 2022
Label: Sister 9 Recordings (UK) / Little Cloud Records (US) / Shyrec (IT)
Voodoo is the fourth album from Italian duo Kill Your Boyfriend, a name and title combo that, at first glance, is a bit much. A little too direct. Like it’s going to be some more of that toothless old ‘devil’s music’ pantomime. Giallo/pulp-a-billy. It is but it isn’t. They rumble and slither on the wet ground where cliché and tradition overlap, digging through old moves and images, back through 50’s R&B to Congo Square. True believers in the voodoo power of rock ‘n’ roll. In rhythm as a liberating compulsion, in the current that flows through the music and the crowd, a means to transcend the self. That ecstatic moment of ego death. That’s the sacrifice.
Which is a lot. It’s not so much of a passive spectator thing, you gotta have faith. As the trash can drum beat and reverbed vocals of ‘The King’ shake into life you might well arch a sceptical brow. Matteo Scarpa gibbers and wails, channelling Elvis through Alan Vega, the music a corroded electro-punk rattle. Context might be key to success, I’m not sure I’ve yet played it loud enough. 9:00 am on caffeine and ear buds is not this music’s natural realm. For best results you should be drunk, in a dark space, submerged in fierce volume. ‘Man in Black’ offers more Sun worship, Antonio Angeli tweaking the insistent pace another notch, the teeming, writhing sound more Eldritch than Cash.
If the first two tracks don’t convince you we’re dealing in the symbolic language of rock’s old gods ‘Mr Mojo’ ought to make it plain. Not looking to recreate or pastiche rock history, they are at least trying to revivify it, release that mysterious Id energy, tap old talismans for what they signify. Something before language. Propulsion and noise, repetition, forward motion, the sorrow and brevity of life. ‘Buster’ is wider and more open, the pace approaching frenzy before an extraordinary coda steps into the light. A morning after haze of lo-fi atmosphere and warbling vocals ‘The Day The Music Died’ begins as lament and ends in bombast, a rousing melody unwinding over pounding drums. It’s a fair way along from the AM static rumble at the album’s start.
On the second side they fully commit to the idea of ritual transformation. ‘Papa Legba’ stands at the crossroads, communication with the beyond is through him. The invocation is a machine rhythm. Drone chant, incense and steam. When the drums arrive they are deeper and steadier, beneath swirling clouds of electronics. The psychedelic undead approach. Unfortunately they start chanting “Black magic oooh”. At this point the world rushes back towards you, you aren’t ready, not like this. Just press down, drink the bitter wine from the gourd, let it run into your eyes. There’s a calm space. Swaying and heavy with expectation. At last a strong pulse comes forward. Organ stabs and driving drums, intensifying, moving upwards.
This would sound great in a forest in the firelight, in a crowd out of their heads, dancing out of their skin, all teeth and eyes.