Sunday, March 21, 2010

A National Healthcare - (1993)

The debut album by the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black is a punkier, almost poppy, take on goth rock than their over-the-top band name suggests, closer in spirit and execution to early-'80s Damned or even early Redd Kross than the likes of, say, Christian Death. Since the album was produced by the great Andy Shernoff of Dictators fame, that's not surprising. Singer Kembra Pfahler has an appealingly bratty whine, and for the most part, the songs stick to the three-chords-in-three-minutes template, and the closer they are to that ideal, the better; songs like the overlong "Alaska," with its rambling spoken sections and irritating sing-songy chorus, are notably inferior to tight little rockers like "Dionetics," which proves that it's possible to have a catchy singalong chorus that consists primarily of the repeated phrase "that f*ckin' asshole." The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black would never again reach the heights of this urgent fusion of camp and punk, but A National Healthcare is a good goofy time. (

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