KIDNAPPERS, THE: Ransom Notes & Telephone Calls: LP

As much as i love the Buzzcocks, i consider the graphics on (most of) their earlier releases to be even better than the music therein; technically, that makes their records mild disappointments, which just goes ta show ya what a tough act to follow great graphics are (if you don’t believe me, just ask Adolf Hitler, who, via his design work on the visual emblems of his government, legitimately qualifies as the most influential graphic designer of the 20th Century [seriously], but never did anything worth a shit beyond that). Now, by my calculations, the Kidnappers have the second coolest band logo of all time, that i can think of (the Buzzcocks more or less permanently occupying the pole position since time immemorial). It’s red and orange on black, and it’s got stencils and stripes and lines and an arrow and a quadrilateral and reversed-out letters and not-reversed-out letters and is, quite frankly, a thing of great wonderment and beauty. Therefore, the Sixty-Four-Thousand Euro Question is “Can the Kidnappers actually emit music as stunning as their logo, or are they doomed to try to scrape together a living merely off of the t-shirt concession?” (i take the liberty of assuming the only t-shirt the band sells or will ever need to sell will be a black T with the orange and red logo, exactly the same size as on the album cover. If this is incorrect, please see your way clear to slit the throat of every idiot involved.) Amazingly, on initial stylus-platter contact, the answer appears to be a resounding “JA!” “A Bit of Your Love” lunges out of the starting gate (or do i mean the “paddock turn?” No, i’m pretty sure the paddock turn is not ‘til later) like some sort of long lost Sex Cow era Teengenerate conflagration, spurred along by electric outbursts of cattle-prod keyboards and wisely shifting into a slightly more pop gear in the choruses (i’m thinking the Oysters, from Boston, ca. 1986, but you don’t have to). MY GAWD. THIS BAND APPEARS TO BE AS GOOD AS THEIR LOGO! I don’t know if i should feel happy for the band, or bad for the designer. The album careens along. “Midnight Ritz” lays off the slight pop throttle; “Close to You” opens it up tenfold. Then, for no apparent reason, the album suddenly derails (AH! The ever-persnickety paddock turn at last!), sliding ass-over-teakettle into the bramble bush of a truly forgettable cover of Teengenerate’s “Right Now,” which has, completely inexplicably, been retitled “Hey! Hey! Hey!” and credited as having been written by the Kidnappers. Uh… what say? This rather, er, quizzical selection is immediately followed up by a… uh… Loli & The Chones cover, which fares better in the translation, yet stands as almost as peculiar a sequencing decision as the inclusion of the camouflaged Teengenerate cover was a lapse in anything resembling good judgment. And, although the remainder of the album is certainly better than “decent” (“Break My Heart” is a great punk-popper, “Excuse Me” an unholy cross between 999’s “No Pity” and the Rezillos’ “Bad Guy Reaction,” and “Hit the Road” sounds like the contemporary garage scene meets Road to Ruin) (which is good), the work as a whole never really regains its composure after the whole “Hey! Hey! Hey!” debacle. Logo wins by TKO, but, hey, the quinella still pays. BEST SONG: “A Bit of Your Love” BEST SONG TITLE: “Hey! Hey! Hey!” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Shockingly, the song “Maximum Rock-N-Roll” simply appears to be about rocking-n-rolling to the maximum! Will wonders never cease?

 –norb (Alien Snatch)