Release Date: Mar 16, 2018
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Alternative/Indie Rock
Beware - Creep Show aim to tease and seduce, with the dark, incendiary electronica of 'Mr Dynamite' harking back to the anything-goes post-punk aesthetic of the late 70s. The work of Benge, Tuung's Phil Winter, Cabaret Voltaire frontman Stephen Mallinder and everyone's favourite mellifluous alt-crooner, John Grant, they ensure the record never stands still, from the slinky 'Modern Parenting' to 'Tokyo Metro' and its angular, 8-bit electro. The closing diptych, headed by 'Fall', is breathtaking: its tumbling synth groove conjures an enchanting Kraftwerkian vision, before 'Safe And Sound' arrives.
John Grant - he of the deep, rich, life-weathered voice, and Stephen Mallinder, ex-Cabaret Voltaire, are the two heads of the self-described "hydra" that constitutes Creep Show. Their body - a twisted, playful but often terrifyingly obtuse kind of squelchy synth framework - comes courtesy of vintage knob-twiddlers, Wrangler. Their debut album is a riot, bending pitches, tempos and comprehension into nine slices of fried, wry funk pop.
They first met in 2014, but went without a name until their current moniker revealed itself to band member Benge in a dream, in much the same way that debut album Mr. Dynamite bursts forth like Athena from the pounding heads of four Doctors Frankenstein, dripping with boom-tschak beats and post-human pathos. For an example of what this sounds like, look no further than the title track: an Adam-and-Eve patchwork of pitched samples sewn together by Benge and Phil Winter into a monster who just wants to get down to an eerie theremin jam.
John Grant and the men of Wrangler -- former Cabaret Voltaire frontman Stephen Mallinder, Tuung's Phillip Winter, and Ben "Benge" Edwards -- are all expert collaborators, so it's not surprising that their work as Creep Show is something special. Wrangler bring a sense of twisted fun to everything they touch, whether they're teaming with vocalists like La Roux and Serafina Steer on their own albums, or working more extensively with an artist like they did on Lone Taxidermist's full-length debut, Trifle. For his part, Grant's deep love of electronic and industrial music only began to surface in his own music on his solo debut, Pale Green Ghosts, which featured production by GusGus' Biggi Veira.
There was a time when John Grant was known for a luscious style of folk-rock, back in his days with The Czars and on his first solo album, the Midlake-backed Queen of Denmark. But such has been his lurch toward the synth-based funk, on Pale Green Ghosts and especially Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, that if Mr Dynamite had been released as Grant's fourth solo album it wouldn't have been particularly surprising. It's not, of course: Creep Show is a collaboration between Grant and Wrangler, the experimental analogue electro three-piece made up of Stephen Mallinder of Cabaret Voltaire, Tunng's Phil Winter and Benge.