Some Kults are better than others
Legendary electro-punk and industrial pioneers My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult or TKK are out with a new album In The House of Strange Affairs. TKK is pure sex and drugs, and that is more than okay. Frankie Nardiello, who goes by the stage name Groovie Mann, and Marston Daley, going by Buzz McCoy, started the band in 1987 and were one of the first to mix heavy synths and a nihilistic punk attitude. Cuts off their first album I See Good Spirits and I See Bad Spirits still hold up and must have been cutting edge for 1988, using samples and chants mixed with explosive drums and Frankie’s grimy and disturbing vocals. Early TKK may have spawned the likes of Nine Inch Nails, whose 1989 Pretty Hate Machine sounds pretty damn similar.
In The House of Strange Affairs is an upgrade of the band’s core sound, adding some modern sound design and effects. Like many, “Forbidden Saints” is an electro-rock anthem with creepy samples, dense synth layering and orchestral strings. “Treat Street” takes reference from the slower disco funk flavorings of their 1993 fan favorite 13 Above The Night. The song is essentially about engaging in a variety of scummy activities delivered over cheesy basslines and steady drum machine grooves. Nardiello’s vocals are disgusting and campy, but that’s exactly what fans are looking for.
“Strange Affairs” is dense with movement and noisy synth layering. Beeping robotic sounds and morphing sting pads ring over energetic sequenced drums. “Its Me Holly” is another highlight; a beat change keeps things fresh and the drums grooves stand out. “Studio 21” is a four to the floor industrial house mixture. The energy is insane, and the ’90s dance aesthetic is tastefully brought back to life. “Hanging Hearts” makes use of bluesy rock guitars and ethereal synth bells. Unlike many, traditional TKK has a large tool kit at their disposal and every song has its own clear aesthetic. This can be seen with the closer “I am Dead,” an abstract, experimental and dark track staying consistent with the album’s tone but adds a dreamlike drugged out vibe aided by heavy effects and sample work.
Overall this album executes on what TKK does best and gives you every flavor of their history. First dark, disturbing and serious to smooth, sexy and theatrical, In The House of Strange Affairs keeps you on your feet while also staying consistent. The common thread being the vocals, which are delivered with a sleazy dirtball demeanor oozing personality and cigarette breath. It will be exciting to see if the band can stay fresh while keeping its cult happy campers.