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Sabrosa Purr
Music From The Violet Room
Dangerbird Records

After a brief spoken-word introduction by a sultry female voice cooing sweet nothings in French, Sabrosa Purr's first proper track on their debut e.p. Music From The Violet Room kicks off with the sound of salacious moans. Is it the same woman? Is she the Sabrosa of the eponymous track? Didn't Greg Dulli already begin an Afghan Whigs track with the sound of one of his many conquests, not to mention the trick's use by the Notorious B.I.G. and countless others?

Well, probably, probably, and certainly. Sabrosa Purr breaks no new musical ground, but if one is willing to overlook some substantial flaws, there is promise to be found on this e.p. That opening track quickly abandons its cheesy moans to launch into a spacey bout of shoegazing torn straight from the songbook of the unfairly overlooked mid-1990s Detroit band Majesty Crush, who also knew a thing or two about salaciousness. The shoegazer sound returns later on "Pink," which stretches out comfortably on a bed of reverb and echo. If Sabrosa Purr stuck to this sound, they might develop it into something inventive. But too often, alas, the band seems determined to pursue musical dead ends and detours that lead to unrewarding, albeit unexpected, brick walls.

Take, for instance, ". . . By The Water." The song begins with a stuttering guitar riff, precisely the kind of frame upon which Dulli often built his sordid Whigs tales. Sabrosa Purr frontman and mastermind Will Love (either an unfortunate given name or an astonishingly bad stage moniker) matches the music with a vaguely ominous tale of adolescent friendship gone awry, alternating between swagger and menace for two compelling minutes, until he suddenly breaks into . . . a histrionic nu-metal shriek. The song's dramatic build-up goes out the window as you scratch your head and ask, "huh?" This hideous screech - presumably a failed attempt to sound "intense" - pops up again a few more times over the course of the e.p. It doesn't ruin "God Damn You," because the song's trite lyrics ("I wish you well . . . hope you burn in hell") do the job on their own, but it does render "The Lovely People" unintentionally amusing, as Love's strained yelps of "all the lovely people" veer only one consonant away from the refrain of the contemptible "Eleanor Rigby" cover by grade-z nu metal band Godhead from a few years back. All the crappy screaming, where does it all come from?

When he manages to stay calm, Love can produce impressive results. The delicate "All The Leaves . . ." is a pretty folk lament, unimpeded by any attempt to sound freaky or "wyrd." Closing track "Liars, Petty Thieves and Pets" would be the same if Love didn't strain so hard to imitate Billy Corgan's naked vulnerability; the song is well written but would carry a more powerful effect if it didn't force comparison to the Smashing Pumpkins' "Disarm," against which it falls far short.

For all these criticisms, I'm willing to give Sabrosa Purr the benefit of the doubt. They're a new band, still caught in the undertow of the anxiety of influence. They've got a good sound, even on dubious tracks like "God Damn You," and they can clearly vary it effectively. With a little less gratuitous screaming, a bit more work on the lyrics, and less overt imitation, this band could merit some serious attention. Until then, most of this has been done before, and better.

-Whit Strub

Track Listing
1. Nous Sommes . . .
2. Sabrosa Purr, Pt. 1
3. . . . By The Water
4. The Lovely People
5. All the Leaves . . .
6. God Damn You
7. Pink
8. Liars, Petty Thieves And Pets

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