Sextus - Stranger Than Fiction
It's taken a couple of weeks but I've finally found time to sit down a listen to the new Sextus album, the new project by ex-Alice Cooper guitarist/songwriter Eric Dover (aka Sextus), via the official download at weedfile.com. Its been a while arriving but is it worth the wait? Early tracks I heard suggested this would be a great album with a similar pop/glam feel to the Roxie77 album, but with added sex and a touch of the bizzare to spice it up and make it stand apart from the pack.
So with no real cover art or other info to peruse it's straight into the music itself. The downloads don`t to my ears boast the best sound quality, sounding slightly distorted a lot of the time, but maybe this is to make sure people buy the real CD when its released! The volume levels seem to go up and down a little as well.
1. You Might Should Know
Great opening number. Glam pop/rock that powers a long with a nice sense of melody. The mix seems a little muddy which results in things being head in the background but not really clear enough to be more then distracting. But songwise this is a great start with the rock power never falling foul of the pop sensitivities and commercial hook. Good stuff.
2. Crazy Crazy Crazy
Beatle-influenced and more laid back then 'You Might Should Know'. Great breathless vocal by Eric. Wouldn`t be a bad choice for a single (should such a thing ever be concidered). Lovely little middle break to add variety.
3. Wild To Make You Mine
Now things start getting a little strange. Some odd Bowie-ish keyboard bleeps over the top of a slow grinding track with another good vocal. There appears to be some depth to the production on the album, with voices and instruments comeing in and out all over the place which unfotunatly on the downloads are often lost a little. A shame. Still, another cool track.
4. Wishing You Well
Acoustic guitar strumming start. Nice enough ballad with some nice electric backing. I get the feling this could work equally as well as a big time rock song as the more intimate version here. Nice classical guitar florishes as well.
5. The Break Of The Morning
And now back to the glam rock. Another good commercial rocker. Surprised and a little disapointed that so far there are no guitar solos, just little motifs here and there. For someone as good as Eric this is a bit of a surprise. But that is only a minor point. Another great rock song.
Cheap Trick comes to mind. Eric seems to have a real talent (one of many) for great vocal lines, and this is another one. A cranked up riff with almost angelic singing over the top gives a nice counterpoint. Erics voice reminds me of someone, but I just can't put my finger on who! Which is good.
7. On The Freak Side
This was one of the tracks I heard awhile back and its grows and grows on you. Catchy as hell it's just fantastic and not what you would expect maybe from an ex-Alice Cooper/Slash musician. Never seems quite the same twice as instruments drop in and out of the mix. Weird sounds, odd backing vocal effects and what sounds like a sax wailing in the background as well. Very cool.
8. Glitter Girl
This is one that didn`t really grab me first time round. Its good, but maybe suffers a little in the company of the rest of the tracks so far. Nothing wrong with it, but not quite as great as its predecessors. Has a little of a late 60s kinks/beatles/psych feel especially near the end.
9. The Mystery Of O
Another of the tracks I'd already heard. A demo was available on MP3.com some time back. More crutchy guitar with some cool keyboard (?) effects over the top and another great vocal. Good track.
10. Kiss Me To Tremors
Another 60s pop tinged track. The sound levels seem to be all over the place on this one. Uptempo. Good but not great. UNTIL about half way through when it goes completely hatstand, with orchestral phrases, repeating sound effects and general strangeness. Much more interesting then the original part although repeated listening could tire. Interesting switch!
11. Trikki Tina
Bowie-ish sexfest. Bumps along on a fun little beat that`s hard to discribe... before again going comepletely off the rails into a simply beautful theme that is possibly the highlight of the album. Why it isn't listed as a seperate track I don`t know but the mournful piano melodies are so haunting and hint at so much more that could come.
12. Megalomania Complex
Another track that used to be up on mp3.com in demo form. I didn`t get it then and I don`t get it now. Simply does nothing for me at all. Its kinda industrial/dance beat thing and is rather at odds with the rest of the album. Not one I`ll be playing much again I'm afraid.
So all told this is a pretty good stuff. Dovers songwriting is not in question and the extra off-the-wall factor, on display to varying degrees, makes it stand out from the norm and hints at great things that could be in the future. If the right record company appeared they could make a couple of the tracks huge crossover hits if the money was put in to promotion. If I had one real critisism then personally I would dump 'Megalomania Complex' and replace it with the other mp3.com demo, called 'Need A Push', which was a cool song and more in keeping with the rest of the album. But other then we have a collection of somgs Eric can justifiably be proud of and a good starting point for even greater things in the future. And if they could just get the real CD out to get rid of the annoying volume and hiss problems all would be right with the world!