New Wet Kojak – This is the Glamorous

New Wet Kojak
This is the Glamorous

Those of you who have heard Girls Against Boys’ most recent work were probably left wondering what happened to the one-of-a-kind DC post-punk dance outfit. The band’s signature sound and energy had all but faded by the time 1998’s Freak*on*ica hit store shelves. And while 2002’s You Can’t Fight What You Can’t See was rightly hailed as a return to form, one listen to New Wet Kojak’s This is the Glamorous cements what many already expected – GVSB frontman Scott McCloud and bassist Johnny Temple have found a more viable creative outlet in “side project” New Wet Kojak.
Formed in 1995, NWK have consistently received high marks from critics and fans, and many have speculated that the side project had usurped the main band in both importance and creativity. While that is certainly a point to be argued, the dense, inspired grooves on This is the Glamorous will certainly fuel the fire of NWK supporters. Reportedly a concept album about glamour – a subject long at the front of McCloud’s stream-of-consciousness lyrics – the lyrics hardly matter on this album. Rather, it’s the drive and the push of the songs, the sexed-up bass and the skronk sax. The album opens convincingly with “The World of Shampoo.” A trebly guitar riff nervously gives way to McCloud’s echoing voice, as he insidiously shouts “I’ll tell you now / tell you this – my baby is for real.” It’s typical McCloud fare, complete with vocal effects, but the difference is in the melody and the sultry confidence. “Something Easy” ups the momentum, as bouncy keyboards and more guitar get lost in a sea of symbols and some glorious sax work. “Jealous” takes advantage of a funky bass riff and an arrogant sax hook.
“Jealous” and “Bad Things” slow the album to an almost ballad-like pace, but McCloud never loses his concentration – that is, the tunefulness remains even when the tempo doesn’t. Though there are potential sequencing issues with placing the two slow tracks in successive order, the band pulls it off with admirable ease. “Lets Get Glorified” [sic] ups the ante again, using atmospheric keyboards and letting the bass and the sax own the tempo. “This is the Glam” is a ball-busting, distorted mess, effective both for its change of texture and also for its incendiary chorus of rising sax and shouts of “you’re just jealous.”
McCloud has long been one of the unheralded heroes of the indie rock world. He can now claim creative control in two inspired, unique bands, and there aren’t many frontmen who can boast about that sort of thing. You can argue until you’re blue in the face about the relevance of McCloud’s bands or the frivolity of “concept” albums, but you’d be hard pressed do deny This is the Glamorous‘s appeal. Of course, you could screw it all and just grind the night away in a neon wash of sax.