Release Date: Nov 3, 2009
Record label: In The Red
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
More skuzzy garage rock from increasingly visible pair Before he donned his gold lamé hot pants and played wild shows like the unholy offspring of Little Richard and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, King Khan made a pair of loose, lewd, lo-fi albums with fellow Montreal ex-pat and former bandmate BBQ—a.k.a. Mark Sultan. Three years after their lip-smacking What’s for Dinner?, the duo re-teams for another set of R&B-inflected, ’60s-influenced garage rock with its juvenile-delinquent charms and dirty minds intact.
Chuck Berry had "My Ding-a-Ling", AC/DC had "Big Balls", King Missile had "Detachable Penis"; perhaps, for the song title "Tastebuds", we should thank King Khan and Mark "BBQ" Sultan for their discretion. The tune, the seventh track on the shuffly garage-rockers' third LP together, is a disarmer no matter your take on it; without ruining the surprise, the tastebuds in question are attached all over the nether quarters, allowing for some heretofore unknown pleasures. It's not half as funny as Khan and Sultan think it is, but it is precisely as catchy as they think it is.
The King Khan & BBQ Show's third outing Invisible Girl is a perfect example of why an album should be lived with for a good deal of time before reviewing. After my first runthrough of the record I was ready to slate it. To dismiss it out of hand as a derivative, throwaway waste of time. Its unoriginality seemed glaring.
A classic example of a star in his own mind, over the past few years [b]King Khan[/b] has seen his profile rise to match his own self-created legend. It’s all thanks to lurid, chaotic live shows, a relentless release schedule and his association with acts such as the [a]Black Lips[/a] and [a]Jay Reatard[/a]. Prior to [b]‘Invisible Girl’[/b], Khan was fronting The Shrines, and this time out, the King and his buddy BBQ – also known as Mark Sultan and once Khan’s bandmate in the heroically named Spaceshits – go further back through American pop history, into the rock’n’roll and doo-wop annals, while always mindful to soak the results in the juice of their punk origins.
While King Khan's star has been rising as the world's leading South Asian R&B shouter with his band the Shrines, it's good to know he still finds time to make music with former Spaceshits bandmate and pal BBQ (aka Mark Sultan), and their third album as a duo, Invisible Girl, shows they still bring out the best in one another. Invisible Girl is just a little less raw than 2006's What's for Dinner?, but the margin's pretty slim -- Khan and Sultan are still churning out wound-up 21st century variations on classic soul, blues, and rock & roll themes, and letting their guitars wail (and BBQ's feet beat out a rhythm) while they wrap their voices around these tunes with ragged-but-right harmonies and some pretty impressive doo wopping on numbers like "Third Avenue" and "Anala. " The title of the latter tune points to the band's occasional eagerness to play the bad taste card (the high/low point comes with "Tastebuds"), but for the most part, they take this material pretty straight, and their vocal and instrumental skills get better with each album, through they know their strengths well enough to keep this music from getting anywhere close to slick.
Thanks to the triple threat of analog veneration, affordability of sound reproduction, and canonization via Nuggets, garage rock is now a firmly planted beacon in pop music, dispensing influence and inspiring apery from countless young upstarts who impulsively pick up guitars and decide to start bands. In this veritable aural minefield of tinny, ringing guitars and hollow vocals, King Khan (with or without His Shrines) and Mark "BBQ" Sultan (with or without King Khan) have established themselves as the gold standard of garage-rock redux. Few acts channel this era with the same skill or aplomb, and although Invisible Girl -- their second full-length collaboration -- is an admirable showcase of the pair's chops, the album lacks the capping finesse needed to give some of these songs the heft that earned Khan and BBQ their cachet.