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Music Review: Love Kills Theory – Happy Suicide Jim

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I have a riddle for you. What do you get when you cross the more commercial efforts of the Butthole Surfers with the saner elements of Frank Zappa and Mothers of Invention?

Give up?

Why, Love Kills Theory, of course. Now, you might not think that those two musical endeavors would mix too well, but if anyone can make it work, it's Love Kills Theory impresario Cevin Soling. Soling grew up listening to the MC 5, the Residents, Jim Carroll, and various artists experimenting with electronic vocals. Soling has cultivated the roots of his musical foundation into a creative brew on his debut, Happy Suicide Jim.

Soling is something of an eccentric renaissance man, releasing music, self-published children’s books, and film documentaries. On Happy Suicide Jim, Soling contributes ample guitar licks and robotic electronically enhanced vocals. He is backed by Bill Brandau on keyboards, Jim Minics on guitar, Darren Pilato on bass and Jason Stewart on drums. Throughout Happy Suicide Jim, Soling and his ensemble dredge up sounds akin to some of the Surfer’s later work, including Hairway to Steven and Electric Larryland. But where the Surfers are mostly an acid-tinged comedy act, Love Kills Theory explores some dark domains on Happy Suicide Jim.

Sometimes, the lyrics are a bit remote, especially on “Region of the Worms”, where Soling’s metaphors wander into an almost science fiction-like landscape. But, after all, the album purposely dangles on the edge on insanity, so cryptic poetry should be piece of this shattered jigsaw puzzle of an album.

As interesting as Happy Suicide Jim is, its main fault lies in Soling’s contradictory infatuation with edginess. At times, the music happily teeters into uncharted territory, much like a tipsy gazelle prancing in a field of lions. But other times, the group only scratches the surface, playing it safe staying within the boundaries established by Soling’s musical mentors. This makes Happy Suicide Jim a bit of an uneven ride. It would be nice to hear Soling use the music he adores as a launching pad for expression rather than an altar to worship at.

Despite its occasional faults, Happy Suicide Jim is just lunatic enough to keep your interest up. Soling and Minics interchange chunky chords, ably assisted by the sonic IED blasts of Pilato’s and Stewart’s rhythm section. Brandau’s keyboards add some loopy effects, making the whole project a fine alternative to the bland pop currently dominating the Billboard charts.

And if you haven’t figured it out already, don’t even bother with this album if you’re worried whether or not Brittney is putting out another album, or if Jason is going to do more duets with Scarlet. But if you’re thirsting for a sip of the absurd, Happy Suicide Jim is the album for you. It won’t make you cream your pants with its originality, but it's still better than seventy-five percent of the crap out there in musicland.

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