With Rave Noir, we have electronic/dance rock duo Flaunt’s sixth full-length album, a climactic feast which could be accused of just about anything but lack of variety. And oddly, as usually by this time in a band’s career we’re pinning down an exact m.o., they seem to have digressed from coherent dance rock to a total stylistic schizophrenia. Is it sensible? No way. Is it fun? Well, sure…
“Jungle” is the catchiest tune up through track four, plangent very similarly to emo and content within almost religious adherence to convention of song structure. Like most of the album, unfortunately, it is the product of excessive ambition, or at least ambition as the marquis of the performance, and not perhaps channeled sufficiently. The energy is not self-conscious, in other words — it does not sprout up quirkily and in self-spite, but as if more deliberate, and for this reason, slightly rote (this claim would be fairly actuated by observation of the singer’s tendency toward over-enunciation). Still, it is not an incompetent melody, nor song. In fact, the human compassion pronounces itself successfully to the patient listener able to waft through the song’s emo, faux-virtuous veneer.
“Messiah” is sculpted stylistically as essentially a “club banger,” giving certainly the album a schizophrenic feel following as it does the prom-ready drama of “Jungle.” Taken as a single (a role its album predecessor could oddly likewise serve), “Messiah” is a zooming and charmingly nonchalant showcase of white-boy rap-crooning over electric guitar riffs, like equally the opposite of nu metal and the obvious adjacent to it.
About halfway through “I Haven’t Thought about You Yet,” it becomes almost impossible to believe that this is the same musicians as on the previous tracks, even more so because… this song is GOOD! I mean, it doesn’t EXACTLY strike the listener as an artist trying to do too much, maybe just cramming too much on one album, an ironic situation given that per the band’s own press release, they “aim to create song cycles in a day and age where the album is declared ‘dead.’” Rave Noir isn’t so much a “song cycle” as it is like a trip to the record store — maybe the used bin where all genres are cozied up together, almost assuredly spawning of shakes of the head and rolls of the eyes, but also amusement.
“This is What Happens When You Let Me down” gives hints of a bubbling album coagulation into dance rock, and the song has both pros and cons, in its own right. On the downside, the singer’s monologue does threaten toward melodrama, somewhat like on “Jungle” except this time in explicit semantics rather than just tone — the listener taken too deep into his seemingly pointless relationship qualm. As far as the pluses go, the music by way of aerated production does balance out nicely — the powerful anger and percussion reciting the general plaint, and the sporadic “electronica” elements, which seem to have finally ingratiated themselves into the larger whole, rather than in obstinate isolation.
The strong point of “Kill with Honey” is the spare percussion intro, which sounds like a high “max” fruit kick adorned with the rhythmic buzzing of like a thousand gnats, and then the song loses a certain viscera upon reintroduction of the vocal. In the middle, the song’s electronica interlude is a treat, SLIGHTLY similar to that weird instrumental middle eight in Soul Coughing’s “Monster Man” (which is obviously a weird song in general). Electric guitar frills then adorn the song’s meat as garnishes, and eventually the vocal does earn its keep, but it takes some getting used to — it’s a lesson in paean earnestness, whereas the song’s intro undoubtedly exudes, and so calls for, the playful. This is of course in stark contrast to other spots like “Didn’t Know it Would Be This Way” where the pop vocal worthily takes the spotlight, and the percussion is left in momentary valediction.
All in all, Rave Noir makes an astonishingly confusing impression, because on the same project, there are two primary fortes: mellow but pithy electronica (the intro to “Kill with Honey”) and blues rock (“I Haven’t Thought about You Yet”; “You Sure Know How to Hurt Someone”). So you could either say that these two things are impossible to reconcile together, or that Flaunt are just one or two albums away from fully doing so. Either way, this music is obviously fun, and could make for both poignant guest appearances, and personal song larceny in the case of the members deciding to go their own way someday.