Chicago-based art-freak horror punk band Toupee has released their newest album, Leg Toucher, and it makes quite a statement. Though the jury is out on whether it’s all that interesting of a statement. Leg Toucher is short, with barely any songs hitting even the 3-minute mark, and each song is packed with grotesque feeling energy but there is an over-arching vibe they may have tried a bit too hard to be alienating. Some bands can alienate their listeners without much effort, but there’s something about Toupee that feels like they wish they could be more edgy than they actually are.
That isn’t to say that Toupee isn’t a talented band. Vocalist Whitney Allen has a truly powerful voice that will disturb and shake you, but excessive affectations and unoriginal lyrics, like those found in the track “School,” stand in the way of her true potential. Leg Toucher‘s single, “Mommy is a Mummy” is an example of a song that has the basis to be great but is ruined by the band’s need to be transgressive and weird rather than just letting it happen. Allen’s best vocals come out, ironically, in their shortest song, “Spider that Lives in Your Hair,” where she shows listeners her growls are her strongest feature – a feature she should be highlighting in other songs.
Toupee has the potential to be something more exciting, but it seems the sound they’ve landed on in Leg Toucher is the one they were aiming for, so it is likely they will remain a less evocative Burnt Books. If they took a step back from trying to be as freaky as they can muster and just let their already apparent talent and creative instincts shine, there’d be something much more substantial here. That said, punk fans looking for a little avant-goth in their music will likely find something positive on this record, but it may cause many other fans to cringe just one too many times.