New York Disco Villains, Love Ballads, Vol II (self-released)

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There was a glorious time on the ’90s popular music scene when the oddest, most outlandish songs and bands were not only gaining airplay but scoring hits. “Tubthumping,” “Sex and Candy,” and pretty much the entire catalog of Cake are prime examples of this. 

Columbia’s New York Disco Villains would have fit in nicely with that phenomenon, as this new collection shows off their own decidedly quirky style.

Both musically and lyrically, the Villains are driving in a different lane than the rest of their peers. “Exploding Chicken” concerns an unfortunate result of a particularly strange new military technology, while “Elephant Man is Smooth” borrows from both the art-pop of The Swimming Pool Q’s and the girl group harmonies of the ’60s. “Quiet in the Library” should be the new theme song for librarians everywhere, with subject matter that’s exactly what the title suggests.

The strength of the Villains’ style is how they chew up influences and genres and regurgitate them surrounded by their own spin. “The King Is Dead” is a killer rockabilly tune with more than a little Elvis in it. It’s followed by “80’s Hairstyle,” which sounds just as steeped in that decade as the titular big hairdo.

There’s a little bit of Weird Al Yankovic in the admittedly ludicrous lyrical content and the pseudo-Nintendo sounds the band’s keyboard and guitar sounds evoke, but this is not parody or imitation rock ‘n’ roll. Rather, it’s a celebration of the weird, the off-center and those people who are just wired a little differently, giving them — the rest of us — a ticket to the party.

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