7841-honkeykong.jpg

Boots Electric

Honkey Kong

Rating: 1.5/5.0

Label: Dangerbird

In writing about Jesse “the Devil” Hughes in articles past, I’ve described his career/persona/schtick as being a kind of rock ‘n’ roll, tattooed, male version of that hoary Coppertone ad with the little girl’s bathing suit getting pulled down by a dog, revealing her cheeks. Though, Hughes isn’t embarrassed; he’s looking directly at you and there ain’t no mischievous dog. Randy as a goat, Hughes’ whole deal is co-writing and shimmying his way through hit-or-miss, third-rate ‘Stones material. When he hits (“Speaking in Tongues,” “Bad Dream Mama,” much of 2008’s Heart On), the result is some mindlessly entertaining sleazeball rock groovin’; it should be noted that a performance by Hughes with his band, Eagles of Death Metal, is something to be seen – a reaffirmation of rock ‘n’ roll power that one needs every now and again when records like Salem’s seem mindblowing. When Hughes misses, though, you wonder how anyone could’ve committed the resources they did to recording a record like Honkey Kong, his solo debut released under his Boots Electric nickname.

Honkey Kong, conspicuously featuring no creative collaboration with longtime buddy Josh Homme and indeed, featuring creative collaboration with L.A.-based producer Tony Hoffer (Beck, Silversun Pickups, Stars), stands as Hughes Unchained; there he is, in his skivvies and Native headdress on the cover, ready to give you, full-on, whatever it is he’s offering. In Honkey Kong’s case, it’s your typical Stonesy, mid-tempo meanderers, only this time, they’re outfitted with an electro sensibility that especially plays up the ham present anyway in Hughes’ repertoire. Maybe he’s aiming for a goofball, pop take on Peaches’ electro-erotic jams; he comes off instead like Gary Wright, leaving Spooky Tooth to traipse across the stage of The Midnight Special, wearing a keyboard, singing “My Love is Alive.”

Only Wright was being serious; Hughes wants to tickle our funny bones but these things are about as funny as Weird Al deep tracks. He runs down a laundry list of opposites in “Complexity,” letting us know his socks and underwear, he likes “to keep them clean” over a fuzzy bass synth. “I Love You All the Thyme” has “time” spelled like “Thyme” and “Boots Electric Theme” opens with a duet between he and a lady; “I’m not your boyfriend/ I’m just a lollipop/ Just use your finger/ To make the bleeding stop.” “Even redneck noise,” Hughes says, laughing during the song, “is got some cool to it baby,” a line I’m including here because I don’t know what else to include from the rest of the dull lyrics touching on his self-styled caricature of speed freak ladies’ man.

Granted, I’ve always felt like Eagles of Death Metal was an elaborate inside joke that only became funny – and quality – when the sleazeball routine converged with truly undeniable hooks. Honkey Kong’s material trades in Heart On’s seriously fun bubblegum rock for synth-based no-brainer moves and jokes that are convinced, thoroughly, of the frontman’s routine. By the time the goofy, cautionary monster tale “Trippy Blob” comes around a full nine goddamn tracks into the record, only the line “it’s gonna eat your mind like a Bit-O-Honey, baby” is memorable and the gee-shucks-I’m-a-horndog “Swallowed By the Night” makes a boy’s eyes roll back far, far in his head. Whatever.

by Chris Middleman

Comments are closed.

Check Also

PRE: Third Album

PRE Third Album Rating: 3.0/5.0 Label: Skin Graft One of the things that struck me immedia…