Album Review: Kristin Kontrol / X-Communicate

Published by JB on May 19, 2016 by Jeff Becker

Album release date:  May 27, 2016

Album Review: Kristin Kontrol  X-Communicate (8/10)

Moving boldly from the garage to the dance floor.

“Your unhappiness offends me”, sings the new Kristin Kontrol; formerly the gothic beauty bandleader of the Dum Dum Girls.  “Didn’t I swear to be transparent?” is the next verse and away we go three tracks into a complete transformation during the past 5 years from the garage alt-punk diva of 2011’s Only in Dreams; to the gothic slick-pop maturity of 2014’s Too True; and now to the dance floor, genre-jumping seductress that leans on ABBA, Kate Bush and New Order over 10 sprawling tracks.file4

Tracks like ‘Show Me, the title track ‘X-Communicate’ and most notably ‘Skin Shed’ are some of the most in your face commercial tracks from Kristin Kontrol.  The latter is a perfect, disco-flavored, head-bobbing beauty that doesn’t ever need a remix compilation to mess it up.  It’s already dripping perfectly with Kristin Kontrol’s voice providing the perfect layer of grit to the dance floor gem.   Elsewhere the album holds its own even though Kristin Kontrol has now leaped into a competitive genre a little more crowded than what she ever had with the Dum Dum Girls.   I’m guessing she doesn’t mind.

The Dum Dum Girls had minimal competition outside of bands like Best Coast and there was ample room for all of them of them to roam free and expand (both Best Coast and the Dum Dum Girls dropped the lo-fi sound with subsequent releases the past few years).   As Kristin Kontrol, Dee Dee makes a bold, Prince-like color change and challenges her devoted fan base to follow her.  Or they can wait for the next Dum Dum Girls album.

The latter third of the album slows things down; “Don’t waste another day” shouts Dee Dee on ‘Face 2 Face’.  ‘Going Thru the Motions’ sounds like a woman tired of life on tour, and is asking for help, or simply some understanding.   Taking a break from the upbeat vibe of the first half of the album, it’s a late highlight.   ‘Smoke Rings’ brings things down to an electric crawl, “What do you say, is your baby ok?”.   Why yes, I think she’s going to be just fine.



Dee Dee performing in 2011 at a Chicago record store.

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