Over the course of four decades, it’s been said in many places, many times over: no other band in the world sounds quite like legendary Cleveland avant-garage act Pere Ubu; to wit, Pere Ubu sounds like no other band. Singer David Thomas (nee Crocus Behemoth) has been the band's only stalwart member, and he continues driving the artistic agenda of Pere Ubu.
Though pieces of his outfit’s new release, Why I Hate Women start out like those Two Pale Boys side projects of his, Thomas spins this new Ubu darkness into something otherworldly and unique.
Iconoclast frontman that he is, Thomas peppers Ubu’s unpredictable noir tales with an unparalleled sense of eclecticism. Equal parts art-punk, post-punk and Motown soul, Why I Hate Women mines an as-yet unwritten Jim Thompson novel with creepy, obsessive, noisy and almost always cinematic results. Though some audiophiles still call Ubu The Emperor's New Clothes to this day, one would think Don DeLillo would be proud and David Lynch would be envious.
The angular rhythms, dense melodies and signal-to-noise type sounds …all pure Ubu, though it’s a tough thing to assess an Ubu record. Lyrically, Thomas conducts these wild non-sequiturs and internal dialogues that lurch and jerk themselves along... only to come together as a story with repeated listenings. And just like a John Barth or Nathanael West novel, about all you can do is absorb as much as possible and decide what his personal ghosts and soundscapes conjure.
Is Why I Hate Women a Texas murder mystery launched from a lovers' quarrel? Perhaps even from the point of view of the deceased? Who can say. After “Texas Overture,” “Caroleen” and the artful post-punk of “Flames Over Nebraska,” you’re just not sure if the protagonist of this concept album is an insatiable lover or a jealous cannibal of hearts. Or if he's assumed room temperature.
Thomas and his band mysterians -- Robert Wheeler (keyboards), Keith Moliné (guitars), Steve Mehlman (drums) and longtime collaborator Michele Temple (bass/vocals) — do a great job of keeping you guessing. In essence, they've all accomplished their mission: Why I Hate Women is engaging post-modern fiction for the ears.