That’s Not Very Bunny
Many hints suggest what the third album from California desert players Gram Rabbit, RadioAngel & the RobotBeat, really wants to be before even a note is heard. The cover art alone references steampunk, disco, goth and glam; the musicians look like Dresden Dolls stand-ins. Frontwoman Jesika von Rabbit’s very name makes her sound like a refugee from My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, and half the album title suggests metal machine music.
Gram Rabbit make knowing nods to slutty, sleazy industrial dance. The problem is that they’re obscured by lyrics from von Rabbit stinking to high heaven of trying too hard (“Was a girl named Revelina / She was a bit obscena”), and by Todd Rutherford’s instrumental arrangements often recalling every blog-house buzz band of the last three years.
Focus on von Rabbit’s atmospherics and not her unintentionally humorous words, and you might imagine the slow psychedelia of “Something Fuzzy” as Chemical Brothers album filler and “Shiny Monster” coming from female-led industrialists like Lacuna Coil or The Birthday Massacre. Rutherford has flawed successes, too: “In My Book” (a minimal take on Thrill Kill Kult with a laughably ugly refrain, “All the homies in the house say yeah, bitch”) and “The Places We Go” (a rather decent Coldplay-like ballad, making it horribly out of place here).
Sadly, little else succeeds on RadioAngel & the RobotBeat. Played-out synth squelches color “American Hookers,” where the martial stomp of later incarnations of KMFDM also ends up backed by tinkly bell sounds. The sentiments of “The Rest of Us Sleep” are defused by von Rabbit’s chirpy, nanny-nanny-boo-boo delivery. This song pairing plays both ends against the middle in the media-as-God debate; “Fancy Dancy” by itself does the same for drug use. Indecisive, derivative, lacking heart and brains, Gram Rabbit come off as merely a hot mess—emphasis on “mess.”