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Dat Politics - Wow Twist

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Artist: Dat Politics

Album: Wow Twist

Label: Chicks on Speed

Review date: May. 7, 2006

The choice of a favorite band is a game with rules (and, of course, strategy). Not all musical acts are eligible; in fact most are not.

The first rule is hard and fast: the band must have released more than one album; many releases is better. Second, the band must be be a band, not an individual; a truly collaborative group scores more points. Finally, a band cannot be a “favorite band” type of band for only one person; cultural relevance and discussability are paramount. Under these rules, Pearl Jam could be a favorite band, but Temple of the Dog could not.

Dat Politics, in fact, is a “favorite band” type of band. They have released six full-length albums, they are a semi-permanent trio with no obvious “leader,” and they have buzz. Like many favorite bands, they are loved for creating a bizarre yet utterly accessible style that they have toyed with over the course of many albums and which has evolved while remaining indelibly Dat Politics. Their current label, Chicks on Speed, describes this sound as “some epileptic hyper-synthetic acid music at a hyperactive schizophrenic birthday party for fluorescent animals,” i.e. wacky laptopping with “small” (sped up or pitch-shifted) vocals. Their recent video for “This Way” from 2004’s Go Pets Go features a person in a dinosaur suit marching up mountains drawn with Paintbrush and clapping along to the beat.

Dat Politics have also become less experimental over time. With Wow Twist, they have perhaps crossed the fuzzy boundary between “marginally avant-garde” and “suitable for extremely hip tweens.” While Claude Pailliot and Gaetan Collet’s vocals remain as small and charming as ever, the beats are cheesier, the rhythms straighter and more danceable.

This new direction yields mixed results. The addictive “Viper Eyes” is fake scratching and punchy, staccato vox, “Ah, ah we still have mixed FEEL-ings aBOUT this” twitters the kitten version of Gaetan (the trio’s female member). The vocal cut-ups in “Gravity” sound like a pinball machine and are joined by arpeggiated, mewed “la la la”-ing. Charmingly, the song “V.I.D.E.O. Tape” features repetitive chanting that goes “V-I-D-O T-A-P-E” (the group is French but sings in English). “Turn my Brain Off,” on the other hand, sounds like an electroclash version of the Strokes.

A lot of teen movies are about a nerdy girl who blossoms and beats the Queen Bee in the quest for the perfect boy. The Ugly Duckling presumably ends up most desirable because of her quirks. Dat Politics used to be more like the her, masking delightfulness in odd. Wow Twist plays Queen Bee – sexy from the get-go, all surface.

By Josie Clowney

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