Girls Against Boys - Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby (Cover Artwork)

Girls Against Boys

Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby (1993)

Touch and Go

After about a year of listening to Girls Against Boys' second album, Venus Luxure No.1 Baby, which came out back in 1993, and other random tracks by the band, I still can't put a finger on why many seem to hate them so much--as the reasons that many do not like their baroque, dance-inspired post-punk are actually the same reasons that I quite like and respect their dark and atmospheric sound.

You see, their attack is simple: Singer/guitarist Scout McCloud and his smoky voice is placed over a dual bass sound, accentuating this ferocious and suave flavor. Although this is also the same reason that many do not like the band -- McCloud's wheezy voice -- yet others believe his cigarette-coated vocals make the music have the feeling of a nightclub, as if it causes the listener to picture a cramped, lounge atmosphere, with a darkness being jutted through with hints of red, thus creating an ominous mood and making the music downright sexy, even for a hetero male, while McCloud comes fully formed, as both taut and cool as a man can get.

Venus Luxure only gets faulty when the instrumentals slow it down to a crawl, because it is in their balance between atmosphere and danceability structures that the music comes truly alluring, with an aura of mystique -- and tracks as "In Like Flynn" are great examples of a few punchy riffs put together over the course of just under four and a half minutes combining to create a turbulent, groove-oriented rockathon. Another extraordinary moment is the excellent "Bullet Proof Cupid" with its stop-and-go-again-on-a-dime structures and ratcheting drum to the backing chorus of, "Hey, hey, hey" that get the listener's juices flowing. Typical exclamation-like chorus are typically nothing more than a cheap and jivey something to get the listener to get into the band's own good times, but here it actually works, and it is just an added layer of coolness, not fodder.

This sense of full-moon frame-of-mind seems to be played to a shower of blood and runs through the band's passionate veins through an icy heart. It is both beautiful and alluring, mysterious and menacing -- like those soulful, blue-drenched nights fit for passionate lovemaking or for howling like a madman. It also shows the spectrum that post-hardcore punk rock can reach without losing its roots -- and despite its many triumphs, when G vs. B gets wobbly is often when it slows it down, such as in "Satin Down," "Get Down" and "Bughouse." When the grooves do not exist, the lyrics and McCloud's voice do not hold the foundation up that well; the listener is sadly just left waiting for hooks to emerge. Ye, they do not, and neither does the songwriting rise out of formulistic rubble. While it may be atmospheric still, it's too introverted and that's simply just not that captivating. Then, on such songs as "Let me Come Back," "Learned It" and "7 Seas," the music is actually so fast that it comes close to drowning out the mood into scatter-shot noise -- while these songs may still be quite good, it shows that G vs. B is best in their cool-and-collected mindset that rocks our world in more ways than one.

So, despite these blemishes in an otherwise fine album, Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby is still suitable as an unique mood piece -- that is, fit for just before dawn, and perfect for swinging your hips to at a nightclub, or for a kiss under a full moon.