There's a short, old joke (so old that I believe Moses told it to his crew just before he laid the big Red Sea trick on their asses) which goes thusly:
"What's got nineteen legs, seven eyes, fangs and an angry expression?"
"I don't know."
"I don't know either, but there's one crawling up the back of your neck."
(Not the shortest joke in the world, which surely must be the two-word gag "Dwarf shortage")
Which brings me to the self-titled album from Beast, a (as their Wiki entry claims) "trip-rock" (isn't that something from a lost episode of The Flintstones, where Fred and Barney get off their faces on some Mesozoic fungi and form a psychedelic rock-combo and a prehistoric kibbutz?) duo hailing from Montreal, although both members (Betty Bonifassi and Jean-Phi (Phi?) Goncalves) are originally from France.
(I won't hold the latter against them. Nobody's perfect.)
You see, I don't know what this album or artist is.
More to the point, I don't think that they do, either.
The album kicks off with Devil, a kind of female-voiced, poppy take on Angel Dust-era Faith No More (but without being blessed/cursed with Mike Patton's priceless demons). It's OK – it grinds along inoffensively, despite the nonsensical lyrics which, if you're a science-geek like me, serve merely to motivate me to e-mail Bonifassi to enlighten her as to the basics of astronomy, solar physics, and celestial mechanics.
The whole album limps on like this, with Nine Inch Nails-ish electro-thrash stylings unashamedly layered over Bonifassi's oft spoken/rapped vocal. Odd pieces of Euro-rock slip in and out. There's a definite Parisian bordello vibe on the song Out Of Control, a song which wouldn't be out of place on a mid-1980s Cyndi Lauper album.
"What's that, Lawton?" I hear you ask, gentle reader. "Rap, metal, and Cyndi Lauper...all on the same album?"
Yes, my love, my own – and that's what irks me about this album. Neither fish nor fowl, it feels like the repository for a heap of reworked, old ideas from Bonifassi and Goncalves, concluding with a misguided, gospel-infused sing-along at the end in the clumsily-titled Satan.
Imagine KT Tunstall jamming with Moby and you're nearly there.
And it took three plays for me to work out what it is I don't like about Bonifassi's voice – she sounds like Anastasia auditioning for Metallica by trying to sound like Edith Piaff doing an impression of Annie Lennox.
I'm unused to writing such short reviews, but I'm afraid Beast is like a cheap French wine – passable.
And now I've passed it, all that remains for me is to say "Sleep well, my children".