Not exactly an album of two halves but one with a certain shift in its manner well into its body, Any Other Way from US electronic explorers RxGF, is an exhilarating and transfixing adventure for ears and imagination. Consisting of thirteen tracks which bind the listener in flirtatious and provocative dark wave intrigue, the album is a creative emprise of rhythmic and electronic ingenuity honed into individual provocations which ignite thoughts and emotions as forcibly as they seduce ears. The third album from the band and the first with vocalist Angeline Schaaf, Any Other Way is one of those glorious inventive blazes you unknowingly hanker all year for.
The Seattle bred RxGF is the brainchild of and driven by multi-instrumentalist John Morgan Reilly who linked up in 2005 with producer Jonathan Plum who had worked with one of Reilly’s previous bands, to experiment on fresh songs and sounds. Under the name Radioactive X Girlfriend, this revamped in reflection of the band’s new twist of sound for the new album, the pair uncaged the albums, The Art of Splitting in 2011 and the following year All Blade No Handle. Enlisting contributions from the likes of Daniel Bedingfield, Dave Rosser (Twilight Singers, Afghan Whigs), Matthew Burgess, and Davey Brozowski (Cathaters), the acclaimed releases explored guitar-heavy indie rock and electro-folk respectively, each offering a dramatic departure in sound to the other, a diverse shift which is again emulated by Any Other Way.
The new album thrusts the listener into a dark wave terrain bulging with rhythmic incitement and electronic tenacity. Equally there are thick essences of techno, trip hop, and industrial trespasses which infuse and colour the shadows with greater experimentation and expression. It all makes for a wonderfully imposing and unpredictable proposition, one given even greater drama and imaginative espionage by the gorgeous sultry tones of Schaaf. There is a futuristic bordering on dystopian edge to many songs and with the broody noir lit beauty and tonal majesty of her voice, as instantly evidenced on the first two songs, it makes for dark times presented with compelling seduction.
The album’s title track opens up the theatre of creative operations, the encounter an immediate wall of sonic and electro baiting lit by the voice of Schaaf. It is not long before punchy and gripping rhythms are knocking on the door of the passions, their insatiable baiting potent within the expanding warmth and melodic expression of the synths. As lively and electronically radiant as the track is there is an intimidating shadow to its presence, a dark breath which also lies on the syllables flowing from the throat of Schaaf, the lady from track one revealing the depth and rich expression of her tones. It is a striking flame to start things off but soon surpassed by the brilliant How To Make It. With the opening intimidating rumble of rhythms and subsequent designs which emerge, the band shares a comparable skill and imagination to The Creatures, Schaaf herself finding that gothic elegance and exploration which makes Siouxsie Sioux so distinct and revered. The track from its hypnotic start continues to prowl the dark corners of its depths and the senses, its honest appraisal of music a defiance to the doom laded climate presented.
From one pinnacle another is soon caressing ears, the melodic guitar crafted entrance of We Will Not Be Denied the gateway into fiery and caustic scenery. Again Siouxsie comes to mind but with more Banshees bred essences merging with the lighter melodic revelry of a Morningwood this time though the song is soon establishing its own identity and unique persuasion as it ebbs and flows in voracious enterprise, a trait raging in all songs as shown by the funkier electro dance of Flesh And Bone. Breathtakingly vivacious in energy and bubbling sounds, the track is a smouldering riot which almost explodes when it breaks from the dance floor for a punkish challenge led by the vocal challenge of Reilly. It soon returns into its hot summer of festivity though, leaving feet and emotions exhausted.
Antidote looks back into the shadows next, from its first second the song soaked in a menacing sizzle of sound amidst sinister colouring. This is tempered by the increasingly impressive vocal hues of Schaaf and again eagerly simmering melodies as another dark tale for the imagination is cast before the outstanding Tombstone Soirée takes over. A rhythmic and vocal swagger lurks from the first beat and mischievous syllable cast, fiery electronics again the lead protagonist before Schaaf unveils a compelling temptress posing as her voice. She flirts and seduces with every dramatic note, matched along the way by the maelstrom of adventure around her where sounds are as salaciously predatory as they are diversely magnetic. The track is an inescapable tempting providing another major peak which is matched by the ridiculously tantalising Never Felt So Good. As celestial as it is darkly beckoning, song and climate is another which intrigues and hints without revealing its full intent, dark and light colluding for a delicious mystery for thoughts and ears to immerse in.
It is at this point where the album seems to make another shift of direction, The Dying Grace Of Machines diving into a heavy industrial landscape with Reilly taking lead vocals where every word and tone expelled seems to have an axe to grind. It is an unexpected twist but one which soon grips with compelling weight and drama, its EBM lures pungent suggestiveness to match the potency of the weave of samples and creative enterprise fuelling the track. The following provocation of The Hit is spawned from the same mix, its dark but less threatening body equally enthralling and unexpected and warmly welcomed before making way for the False Flag Mix of Things That Go Bang, the fall of liberty and the beckoning of 1984 in one unrelenting and mouth-watering slab of electro/industrial predation. As the two before it, the track is exceptional but whether they fit with the previous fiery romance of the earlier songs is a still running mental debate. The following ears and thoughts stalking of Kontrollier Die Kontrollierenden is another which slips into that uncertainly, though the song with a great Bowie-esque lilt to Reilly’s vocals certainly continues the immense pleasure gained from the album.
The album closes with firstly Flow, an electro shuffle which delights and has feet subservient but lacks the spark of other songs and lastly the Verax Mix of Belladonna Dream which sees Schaaf returning to seduce the senses. The song is a delicious croon to leave a lingering kiss on ears and emotions and bring Any Other Way to a mystique coated and bewitching end.
Any Other Way is an engrossing and virulently thrilling encounter which teases, seduces, and challenges throughout for all the right reasons. It rivals all other electronic releases this year for the right to be called the best whilst RxGF shows again their extraordinary ability to explore new realms with every release.
Any Other Way is available now @ https://rxgf.bandcamp.com/album/any-other-way
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