Besides being one of the few contemporary techno-dance bands to draw its primary synthetic inspiration from Kraftwerk, this hybrid California/European duo is nearly alone in bringing an easy sense of humor to what is, at least in a sense, industrial music. With samples and repetitive rhythmatics connecting the Weathermen to far more abrasive club fiends, the clever and ingratiating Ten Deadly Kisses blends light, repetitive blip-rock and loopy lyrics into a meeting between Yello pop (less the continental snootiness) and Wall of Voodoo. Neat stuff.
The Black Album is heavier, harder and crazier, a rock record played on synthesizers that produce dinkybop squiggles as well as more aggressively weird noises. In place of the first LP’s monotonous grooves, the music here moves around a lot, while the vocals run from a quietly kinky socio-sexual conversation between “Barbie and Ken” to the melodramatic sci-fi nightmare of “Twisting Doorknob” to the ominous whisper of “Punishment Park.” Lurid fun that never stops grinning, The Black Album offers solace to those looking for new thrills now that Devo is out of the running.
Miles better than either of those, however, Beyond the Beyond is a hard-driving and penetrating critique of contemporary America with the engrossing qualities of a short-story collection and the humor of an underground comic. Whether attacking mindless culture (“Custom Brain”), American adventurism (“Heatseeker”) or televangelism (“Freedom or Slavery”), the Weathermen make their points with accuracy and abundant wit; when they shift their sights to tell odd little stories of personal degradation (“Such a Beautiful City,” “California or Bust,” “Muzak”), the panoply of pop culture reference points makes them even more entertaining.