HTRK - Marry Me Tonight LP
Label: Ghostly International
"It's hard to fathom that Marry Me Tonight would be qualified as a pop album by the band. This album swoons in an emotional torpor of jilted lust and polysexual frustration, beseeching the question, 'Can we get back together?' from the onset. Something is broken. Something is lost. Was it love? Was it a dream? Was it the idealism reserved for the young? What fills that void are the ballads of sexual dependency, the tear stained diaries scrawled under the influence of pills and booze, and the beautiful pit of despair. The answer to that question, 'Can we get back together?' is met with an uninflected, sarcastic tweet: 'Ha.' It is a cold sneer with the implication of pointless superiority on the part of the narrator, who's just as much of stained human being as the object of that invective. This is not the coy pop music seeking freedom or romance. Even the joy of sex is fleeting at best, overcome by abjection…
Sure, there is a polish to Marry Me Tonight which speaks of an aesthetic sophistication that draws from a rich tradition of transgressive minstrels. Lydia lunch. The Birthday Party. Martin Rev. But hero worship is not in HTRK’s vocabulary; they find themselves as equals with these iconoclasts. So, HTRK’s definition of pop be better defined as a pop crime, in homage to their mentor and producer for Marry Me Tonight, Roland S. Howard. Nostalgia marked the band's debut, with their poetry for emotional horror fully formed if buried under six feet of snow. The songs for rhythm, bass, and voice were over-saturated by the thrum of ice-storm noise and violent echo. HTRK re-invented a handful of the songs on that album under the tutelage of Howard. 'Look What's Been Done' is rechristened 'Ha.' 'Look At That Girl' is reprised as 'Rent Boy.' 'I'm All Broke Up' becomes “Disco.' It is not a maelstrom of sound that alludes to the realm of the emotional; but here on Marry Me Tonight, the band opens up and bleeds. A bad boy bubby swagger slinks from the basslines of Sean Stewart. A scabrous tone of Nigel Yang's guitar stings like iodine poured over razor burn. And Jonnine Standish came into her own as one hell of a spokesperson for the zombified, the under-fucked, and the blighted from existential exhaustion.
So is this a pop record? I don't fucking care. This is just a great goddamn record, and 'Fascinator' makes for one mighty fine epitaph: 'We could fake it / If I met you in a different shitty place.' - Jim Haynes (from the liner notes)