ARE Weapons – “New York Muscle”

Meanwhile here’s what New York is up to (Paris and Munich updates surely due from our foreign readers). A.R.E. Weapons play semiharsh electro-rock in the style of Suicide, with maybe a bit of early Beastie Boys and Velvets attitude. They’re punky and nasty and for real – “I dreamed up this beat when I was sleeping on the street and I cooked up this verse when I had nothing to eat”. Which underlines the importance of a healthy diet and comfortable lifestyle as A.R.E. Weapons are a bit rubbish. The unformed-ness put me off first time: chanting and half-rapping and synthblurts and hand-cranked beats all falling into each other.

On second listening that’s all fairly invigorating but it’s their aesthetic which seems unformed – or maybe stunted would be a better word. If you liked Suicide you might be happy that there’s a band following in their footsteps but while they follow very closely in some ways (New York is vicious – sum it up with sleazy electro sounds) they also miss out some of the disturbing campiness you find on Suicide records, that Elvis-impersonator vocal shuffle for instance. You need a pinch of the ridiculous if you’re making this sort of thing – for instance the reason Soft Cell worked so well initially was Marc Almond’s understanding that a life lived on the sleazy edge might be shabby and laughable at the same time as it was glamourous and tough.

On “New York Muscle” the way the backing vox chant “New York Muscle! New York Muscle!” as if they’re on a Village People track is quite funny – though it’s muscle as in hoodlums not muscle as in Marys. But otherwise A.R.E Weapons sound strained and bizarrely out-of-date. Avoid, unless the idea of Americans suddenly discovering the Age Of Chance tickles you.