The PR behind this compares the group to Bowie, the Pixies, P.J. Harvey, and such. I beg to differ. Chico Fellini is more like a blend of The Fall, Nuclear Valdez, Mission UK, Marc Almond, the dramatic (not the metallic!)elements of Marilyn Manson, and the like. It's an ambitious and quite progressive venture with very attractive melodies, Electrolyte immediately capturing attention with its theatric nature. Can't Deny follows that and ratchets up the sass factor immensely, a rock kabuki kicking into something The Call or Big Country might have crafted...had they kept their brief high periods intact and listened to Bowie's Man Who Sold the World (okay, okay, so I hafta agree a bit with the A&R cats after all).
Music like this is all too rare. It's kinda like Sparks when they really had their shit together (the first two Rundgren-produced LPs) with a bit of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and various cinematic ensembles heeding a modern Kurt Weill and the outrageousness of the New York Dolls. Hey, that whole glam gig was all about a post-Weimar decadance, wasn't it? Okay then. Thus, we travel back in time while vaulting forward. The pounce-march of Down the Up Ladder makes that obvious, with eerie guitar airs and Christopher Dennison's eternally chameleonic voice teasing and bitching in a Rocky Horror Show ambiance. Though he hasn't quite the stratospheric passion of the ill-fated Les Dougan (Aragon), there are few like him, and he certainly knows how to get his point across in highly unorthodox plaints.
Chico Fellini is one of handful of groups of the last 20 years working in this mode, trying to resurrect more of the sideboard panoramas possible in rock, and not all that different, especially when listening to the guitars in No Strata, to what Alice Cooper was doing in his multi-LP Nightmare period, just a hell of a lot more oriented to the dark-Hollywood milieu.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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