Sectlinefor – Kissing Strangers During an Outbreak


London duo, Sectlinefor, take pride in antagonising a live audience of metalheads and pissing off metal purists. Their cartoonish appearance, miscegenated metallic dance music and camp disco callisthenics are as notorious as their comical sense of humour and warped attempt at catchy pop hooks. When Covid-19 grounded all flights between the UK and USA, one half of the duo found themselves stranded in New York, but this did not deter the group from writing their third album. As you’d expect, it’s as baffling and as iconoclastic as ever, like Macabre copulating with Electric Six.

Normally, we’d say strap yourself in, but the band might brush a strap-on in your face if you stay static for too long. Yet it all starts with great promise. ‘Milk Your Friends’ takes the industrial aggression of Nitzer Ebb and the tip-toeing glockenspiel of Björk and adds hysterical vocals that will remind you of Justin Hill from Sikth. You’re still uttering the first two letters of WTF by the time they launch into ‘The Saddest Face in all of Existence’ and ask you to contemplate what Devin Townsend would sound like if he went in a comical rap direction. Unfortunately, vocalist, Piton, sounds like Chris Tucker from The Fifth Element (he’s the camp black guy with the phallic perm, in case you didn’t know). It’s the first of many moments where you’ll be tempted to press the stop button. ‘Shut Your Child’s Mouth Forever’ is as annoying as the most disposable of songs on the latest Turmion Kätilöt album – all euro dance pop and strange sneezing noises that bring to mind one of those weird fetish clients that like to dress up in nappies and have women treat them like toddlers.

You can’t fault the originality or personality of the music. But the sabotage effort is a real one, and you wonder if you can like something that the band are happy for you to dislike. The soliloquy in ‘Spoiler Alert: Everyone Dies in the End’ could be from any diva at a Soho transvestite club on a pre-Covid Friday night. It’s funny at first, but you feel your hands forming into fist shapes in your pockets when the entertainers get too close. ‘Six Minute Abs’ is the point where you ought to turn it off. What happened to the heavier dynamics of the opening two songs?

As if listening to the reservations in your head, Sectlinefor abandon the irksome poses and infantile vocals from track seven onwards and almost salvage the ruination of the middle parts. ‘Babies Come from Trees’ is a weird fusion of Frank Zappa guitars and Eurodance rhythms with great pathos in the voice. The title track is more masculine and yet the melancholy seeps through like a tear spoiling the glitter of a superficial smile. A glance at the lyrics shows a talent for articulating the emotions of an unobtainable love: “I considered you a sort of wayward soulmate/ A metaphorical shopping cart of emotion/ I starved myself just so you would love me/ And now I’m tired and I want to lie down.” By end track, ‘Double Blue Tick of LOL’, you’ll be wondering if you judged them too harshly. This is where the Faith No More comparison has some merit, only it’s the Chuck Moseley era and the effort is like a sombre synth-pop take on ‘Anne’s Song’.

Sectlinefor achieve their aim of getting a reaction from the metal purists on this record, but the sabotage effort does them an injustice. The band have an ear for a tune and a talent for unearthing poignant emotions amid the most incongruent and irksome of experiments. This would be a decent album, if they didn’t put so much emphasis on annoying the listener with their camp vocal theatrics. Here’s a novel idea: why not give us a grindcore EP for the next release?

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 28/05/2021

Record Label: Self Released

Standout tracks: Milk Your Friends, Babies Come from Trees, Kissing Strangers During an Outbreak

Suggested Further Listening: Nitzer Ebb – Ebbhead (1991), Turmion Kätilöt – Dance Panique (2017), Sikth – The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out Wait for Something Wild (2003)