Album Review: Electric Six – Human Zoo

Electric Six - Human ZooI remember the very first time Electric Six (E6) hit my ears.

I was working at a Borders Books, Music & Cafe in some fancy Cleveland suburb one night just minding my own business.  One of my co-workers was unpacking all of the promotional CDs for the listening booths and asked me to help him out.

Flashback Memory: As I am sure many of your remember, there was a time when CDs were the staple of the music industry and at Borders, we literally had to manually input CDs into the CD players that were locked below the CD shelves.  This was done so all you consumers could come in and check out an album prior to its release.  Duh.

Anyways, I remember seeing a copy of E6’s debut release Fire sitting out on the counter.  For whatever reason, I picked up the CD to see what it was all about and soon flipped it over to see the track titles.  I decided to sneak in a listen after I put the CD into the listening station.  I have been a fan ever since.  I just sat there on the floor of the music department loving every song on that title.  Needless to say, I snagged that CD the day it officially released and have had it in rotation for years.

I can’t say every release since Fire had as huge of an impact on me, but I have always appreciated what Dick Valentine and crew have done for 10+ years now.  Last years Mustang left a pretty good impression on me, but I just was not blown away completely.

The Detroit garage/rock/funk/disco/jam/electronica/jack-of-all-trades genre-bending act just dropped an all new album titled Human Zoo.  I am happy to say I mostly enjoyed the living hell out of it and I am pretty confident any E6 fan out there will too.

“Karate Lips” opened with an enthusiastic chant of “Electric Six” that quickly changed to “karate lips”.   The song, clearly about some tough-ass women, was heavy on the funk with an electric indie rock style that closely resembled stuff you might hear from the The Faint.

“It’s Horseshit!” was almost too much for my brain to compute yet I loved it.  It was like listening to a late 80s boy baElectric Sixnd infused with Daft Punk.  Definitely a track that people can get weird to.  The music and just overall feel of this song really resembled that vibe I first felt on Fire.

Valentine swooned beyond senselessly in “Alone With Your Body”.  I listened to this track a couple of times over because I liked it so much.  This was like the working man’s love jam.  Valentine sang as a simple man with plenty of Detroit soul backing him up.  I adored the back up singing as well as candid lyrics like “I’ll be there in a jiffy with a stiffy”.

“Satanic Wheels” grew on me after listening to it a couple of times.  I loved the synth throughout.  I felt like I was listening to typical E6 but with keyboard playing taking queues from 80s arena rock bands.  It was psychedelic yet indie if that makes sense.  I guess what I am trying to say is that this song ruled and was one of my favorites on the album.

“Gun Rights” was bizarre and unexpected.  I thought I was listening to Ween mashed with Mike Patton.  “Don’t take away my rights, my gun rights” repeated over and over with a fun Mexican folk melody.  The quick spoken-word of Valentine in the middle just kept things even more interesting.

“I Need A Restaurant” just did not do it for me.  The song seemed to just downgrade from all the craziness I previously was engulfed in.  Sadly, I skipped this track halfway into and barely made it through “Worst Movie Ever”.

“I’m the Devil” sounded more like something Tenacious D would have done one of their albums.  It was not terrible by any means but seemed more of a skit than a song.  I almost wish Dave Grohl would have jumped in on this track dressed as the devil.  I did like the Young Guns-like guitar playing style.  The best part of this track was at the very end when apparently Jesus Christ had a speaking roll.  Who knew he was such a burnout?

“The Afterlife” ended with a synth-pop tune that thankfully did not let the album end on a bad note for this listener.  I wish it were a little more sped up but for what it is worth, it was not a terrible listen by any means.

Human Zoo overall was a blast.  E6 continues to entertain but I will admit the latter portion of the album kind of fell short.   Regardless, most of the release got me all sorts of excited just like their debut did over 10 years ago.  This band in my opinion still entertains on a higher level.

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