If your band is more fucked-up than the Clone Defects, congratulations: you've gotta be dead. Their previous full-length, Blood On Jupiter, was Radio Birdman gone wrong in all the best ways; against expectations, Shapes of Venus is everything you've craved or feared, except somehow more and better. Opener "Low Fashion Lover" jerks from swampy Scientists eeriness to pounding Pagans punk; "Procrastination Baby" was born 30 years and two Nuggets compilations too late; and "Rabid Animal Detector" is the Fall playing in a bar in Cleveland to no one but two members of the Electric Eels, neither of whom cares one shit. Under a fog bank of effects and surely some kind of drugs, there's something close to the gutter glam of the New York Dolls or even the nastiest of T-Rex, but it has been C-sectioned out of a bloated, moaning mess of the lowest sci-fi trash, broad-stroked teenage lust and pill-popper philosophizing. Like the Velvet Underground, you'll feel like you're on something just by listening to it. Singer Timmy Vulgar sounds like he has the same brain lesions Roky Erikson had, but he's too hung-over and hoarse to really let it get the better of him. Lyrically, the Clone Defects are chasing the caboose of Burroughs' Nova Express—they're rumored to drop acid before every show!—with insane shit about sexing up glowing alien girls or early human mutants and purple bacteria; musically, they're the best waking nightmare going. This is the most lovably ugly rock & roll album we've heard this year—we can only imagine the human cost that went into it.
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