There’s alternative and then there’s alternative. My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult make music for whenever you feel like venturing out into the night-time neon streets of the rain slicked city of sin, places with go-go dancers, and secret Satanists. Trashy? Most definitely. Fun? Always. Satirical and smart, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult join together samples and beats, fusing them in an unholy alliance with each other until they’re left with dark sexy disco. Much as been written about this band, but one thing that often goes unsaid is that their music has a sense of humour about it. They’re tongue in cheek in more ways than one. The concept of Buzz McCoy and Groovie Mann, the duo made music for an aborted movie, a trashy film that would surely have recalled John Waters or Troma Film. The result became their debut album I See Good Spirits And Bad. Oh, it would have been an amazing movie, the sort reissued by Arrow Video with a booklet and reversible cover art. I can almost see it now! Groovie Mann, the group’s vocalist, doesn’t so much sing as narrate the songs like they were trailers shown on a screen at a drive-in cinema, the sort you’ve never been to, but have seen in old movies.
My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult quickly released an EP (Kooler Than Jesus) and a second album (Confessions Of A Knife…), but it was their third album that they did something no-one expected: they edged themselves closer to the mainstream. A band whose principle fascinations included violent movies, hardboiled babes, sleazy exploitation flicks and horror. And in me they found a fan for life. For Sexplosion, their third album, was a perfect summation of my teen obsessions. Camp? This band were CAMP IN EXCELSIS. Jayne Mansfield, Kathy Acker, giallo, punk, James Ellroy, Elvira, dance, Divine, John Waters and low-rent bombed blondshell actresses. At last, I had music that matched that mood. What I failed to realise at the time was that Sexplosion might be an ironic (possibly feminist) take on the hypersexualisation of pop culture. Sometimes the song titles reads like parody: Leathersex, International Sin Set, Sex On Wheelz. All cracking songs, by the way. Apparently, Groovie Mann once stated that Sexplosion was meant to be a genderless, open-ended fantasy for listeners. Perhaps that’s why the younger (slimmer) version of me took to the album so much?
It opens with International Sin Set, a bombastic dance song that I kept on repeat, thus not hearing the whole album for quite a while. The interlude Mood No.6 samples a song from the soundtrack to one of the worst James Bond movies ever (Thunderball) and turns it into a lo-fi earworm. I had that one on repeat too. Sex On Wheelz, the closest thing the band had to a commercial breakthrough, was included on movie soundtracks. I like it, but it isn’t my favourite on the album. That honour belongs to the single greatest song My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult ever recorded.
I can see palm trees, neon pink corvettes, go-go dancers, leering gangsters, tough but honest cops, and drag queens. I can feel ocean spray. The signs that aren’t quite lit because bulbs are broken. This from one song. A key lyric goes, “We’ve got instant action, deep satisfaction, an experience you’ll always remember.” It could be talking about several things, but for me it neatly sums up Sexplosion. It’s an album that fires up the imagination. It sounds like the best cult movie never made. In a post-MTV world where music always has an accompanying mini movie, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult were making mini movies with their music.
Make no mistake, Sexplosion is their finest moment. God bless My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, a band that didn’t forget to make their music fun at a time when most of their contemporaries in the alternative scene wanted to be as serious (and boring) as possible. Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie were similar smart, often as satirical – but not half as entertaining as what My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult served in Sexplosion. I’m waiting for them to create a sequel to this album. All good movies deserve a sequel, don’t they?
Sexplosion by My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult is available to buy and stream from all the usual shops/online services.