The Chinese Stars - A Rare Sensation (Cover Artwork)

The Chinese Stars

A Rare Sensation (2004)

Three One G

Chinese Stars' frontman Eric Paul's high-register, sometimes-disinterested/sometimes-pleading vocals recall those of Christian Death's premier frontman Rozz Williams (singer in EARLY Christian Death – when they were actually GOOD, R.I.P., Rozz…) – but no traces of Christian Death's undeniably theatrical "death rock" here, friends, just some intoxicating noise rock from this Rhode Island quartet, which includes two ex-members of Arab on Radar (Paul, drummer Craig Kureck) and one from Six Finger Satellite (bassist Rick Pelletier).

Much of the nine-track record – 'A Rare Sensation' marks the band's second release, the first being last year's 'Turbo Mattress' on Skin Graft – is comprised of atonal riffs that, repeated ad nauseam, really could get on some people's nerves, methinks (especially the piercing guitars that encapsulate "(Love) and the Electric Chair", "Dressed to Get Blessed", "Cheap City Halo", et al), pounding, groove-filled, Gang of Four-like bass, and sometimes-nervous drumming. The band have pledged themselves to a noble cause, too: "terrorizing parents, authority figures, and the psyche of the free world."

In any case, on the ever-important lyrical front, Paul's compositions are rather befuddling, at times seemingly bordering on nonsense. It is possible to eke some meaning out, though, but a few lines of course probably only hold significance to the songwriter, if even that! Take, for instance, this line from the final track, "Getting the Death Card": "I love the way she sends my teeth home to her parents". Uh, okay. (Well, the band's bio DOES say that primarily "mental illness" is his "guiding light"...) However, the somewhat peculiar lyrics complement the chaotic, creative, experimental noise provided by the musicians wonderfully. Overall, mighty fine record.