The Stiletto Formal - This Is My Boomstick (Cover Artwork)

The Stiletto Formal

This Is My Boomstick (2006)


The Stiletto Formal has garnered many comparisons to At the Drive-In, and they are not wholly unjustified. If you're looking for evidence, Exhibit A is vocalist Kyle Howard's voice and unconventional ear for melody, which are so similar to Cedric Bixler's own that the dude could conquer any karaoke competition with a killer rendition of "One Armed Scissor." That is, of course, if any karaoke competition has ATDI on the books. Howard's voice alone doesn't make for the comparisons however; there is also the matter of Exhibit B: his backing band.

The Stiletto Formal moves with the same sort of drunk-in-a-street-fight-glory as ATDI. They gyrate, stab, and spit before falling to the grown and reflecting on the melee in a dirty puddle. The rhythm section knows how to handle sudden shifts, while the riffs can come slithering or crunching, and texture plays a large and satisfying role.

While ATDI is most definitely an influence on the band's This Is My Boomstick EP, they are not a lone influence. The Stiletto Formal come equipped with a few things ATDI did not -- namely a cello player, a penchant for synth, and female backing harmonies, all of which add intriguing layers and interesting melodic twists to an already packed bag of tricks.

The slicing cello and eerie guitar lines of "…Tastes Like Black Licorice" sounds like an outtake from The Ugly Organ, while the rhythm-heavy breakdown that follows could be from a Blood Brothers song if it weren't for the lack of lacerating shrieks. "I Sing the Body Electric" goes a different route as its dance beat and haunting synth recall New Order and the pounding, shouting opening of "Cirrhosis of the Cinema" gives insight into how a Bear vs. Shark track with cello might have sounded.

The Stiletto Formal is a diverse group, one with enough twists and genre dabbling to keep things inventive, but not enough to make for a disparate or confused sound. Like At the Drive-In, the Stiletto Formal know how to twist, mutate, and sometimes mutilate traditional songwriting into something much more intricate and surprising, and maybe the comparisons should just stop there.