Can you imagine what it would sound like if the Gary Glitter Band were to be forcibly sodomised? Do you want to? Neither did I – until the press release for Control of the Stereo appeared, promising just that.
Narco have previously worked on the soundtracks to hit videogames, including the abysmal Driv3r, but now they’re here promising the kind of horrible wackiness that makes you want to cringe till you’re curled up so tight you roll out of the house and join Morrissey under a ten-tonne truck. Keyboardist J.G. likes to get his cock out on-stage apparently. They love to get hideously drunk on a regular basis. Playing this album will apparently even get my CD player pregnant. Yawn – not again, please!
Let’s face it, wacky press release = shit music. Almost all of the time, that is – but not here. They lied, the bastards. None of Control of the Stereo sounds like the aforementioned Glitter atrocity. It’s cool, funky, raw, energetic music that deserves your attention.
At their heart, Narco are a garage-rock outfit blending ’60s psyche fuzz and Hammond with sleazy ’70s funk and a good slab of noisy rock’n'roll for good measure. Opener Hey You is a strong warm-up number, leading into Glitter’s nemesis Worth It, which has a fantastic sleaze-funk groove and some great cheesy synth breaks. “Was it worth it?” asks ‘self-confessed Neanderthal’ singer Cave, “going out every night, getting into a fight?”. If music like this is the result, then yes it was.
You could be forgiven for expecting Narco to have the punk trappings of super-short songs, lo-fi production and no musical self-indulgence but on all counts you’d be wrong. This is a good thing. Young Man vs the 747 starts off at a driving pace before breaking down into a Mr. Mojo Rising style breakdown before returning to tempo and charging angrily into a closing wall of feedback. Different style again, the single Evil Brother is pure 60s bad-trip psychedelia, with bass and organ joining up in an evil march hinting at plenty of pesky goblins to plague Syd Barrett‘s latest nightmares.
The band are tight too, with a great rhythm section from drummer Chopper and bassist Rich Narco (silly names are in full force here), and there’s some classic disco moments. 2nd Evolution evokes the spirit of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, before drifting down into an unexpectedly beautiful minute of ambient noise. Equally groovy is Getting Low which sounds like a bossanova cross between Life During Wartime by Talking Heads and the Beastie Boys‘ Fight For Your Right. Really.
So Narco have played around with styles, expectations and ideas and come up with a sound debut that is (despite what their press want you to believe) surprisingly intelligent. Closing track Teen Suicide Explosion is closer to their sales pitch, a six minute bruiser recalling the Raw Power era Stooges, and it’s no less superb, fading out over two minutes and bringing the album slowly down to a strangely dignified close. There’s no avoiding it, Control Of The Stereo did not do what it said on the tin – and it’s a good thing too. Find out why for yourself and check it out.