Many years ago in the nascent years of Backseat Mafia, we wrote about a number of exciting Italian bands creating distinct indie rock with style and attitude. One of these was a wild and brilliant band called “Sweet Jane and Claire” who (as their name suggested) were very much a Velvet’s-influenced attitude-laden breath of fresh air. Now, many years later the vocalist/guitarist, the enigmatic Luca Zotti, is back collaborating with Luigi Limongelli in the spectacular Unruly Girls. Zotti is on vocals, guitars and keys with Limongelli listed as on “Programming, Drums, Percussions & Noises”.
This is an anarchic thrashing electro-punk onslaught that owes as much to Nine Inch Nails as to Velvet Underground and The Jesus and Mary Chain. The opening excerpt from an interview with the famously snotty Jim Reid and his put down of Joy Division sets the scene for this album. The album blasts out with “Hotel Model” with a rumbling electronic fuzz recalling , dare I say, The Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” before Zotti’s sneering, snarling vocals rip that perception apart. Yet at its heart, it’s a fantastic pop song with a resounding chorus and unrelenting drive. Next track, the charmingly titled “Oral Sex With Eva Braun” underline Unruly Girl’s anarchic sensibility and is Nine Inch Nails in colour but with Zotti’s unique sneering delivery and inherent pop sensibility.
“My Diet Weed” shows the wide musical scope of Unruly Girls – it treads in the same musical waters as The Dandy Warhols or Beck with its slightly slacker instrumentation but again achieves an uniqueness through Zotti’s vocals. “Her Dress” is another relentless rolling blast and its electronic foundation is continued into “Lesser Spell” with its squealing start that suddenly steers into a more psychedelic drone with distant vocals. Rather ironic because the next track track title is designed to offend again: “Psychedelic Music Listeners Make Me Sick”. I’m assuming a sense of self-referential irony here but the music is again dirty fuzzy and filthy with Zotti’s throttled delivery laiden with a sneer and attitude.
“Porno Murder” continues with Unruly Girls’s deliberate provocative titles – opening with a snippet from Kubrick’s Lolita. Zotti’s vocals are this time smooth and lugubrious over slightly discordant chords – creating a sense of unease. “100 Bats” is almost jaunty in comparison but continues the fuzzy strangled side of Zotti’s vocals. “Bad Seed” has backtracked vocals over a remarkably synth wall of sound that evokes a Lynchian world of neon-lit eighties electronica. It is Nicolas Winding Refn in cinematic sound, a wild circus ride punctuated by anarchic saxophone. It’s as far from pop sensibility as you can get, but then that epitomises the ambitious scope of this album.
“Sixties” is just that – a return to the psychedelic hippy side of Zotti (as much as he would profess to admit this), under cut by sudden and wild mood swings. It is multi-layered and complex and completely insane. As if this wasn’t enough, “Prenderla A Mala Fa Male Sai” veers into electro-funk – the only songs sung in Zotti’s native tongue and somehow all the better suited to this with its breathless style. On the penultimate track “Waiting”, Zotti is joined by singer Ronit Bergman on vocals, providing a softening tone in this dream pop song that would sit comfortably alongside a Brian Jonestown Massacre song.
The album closes with “Just A New Creation” – a fittingly anthemic close to an extraordinary album. This has the hallmarks of Gary Numan with its big slabs of electronica and Zotti’s distant disengaged vocals.
This is a thoroughly satisfying album for those who love the dirty rawness of rock’n’roll rolled into a pop sensibility. It delivers on every level: loud, repetitive, mesmerising creative and arrogant. There are nods to dark movies of the sixties, modern icons in rock ranging from electronica to guitar-driven noise pop. It is a long album but manages to remain creative, inventive and exciting throughout. You can listen to the album here:
You can get the album here.