Picks and Pans Review: Frankenchrist

updated 02/17/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/17/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

Dead Kennedys

Their egregious tastelessness is planted right up front in their name. You decide to take on a group called the Dead Kennedys—they have built a following of sorts, after all—and you know right away you're tangling with some seriously twisted and, more than likely, impolite individuals. Three years away from recording has not changed what seems to be the premise of this San Francisco punk quartet: "If it moves, insult it." What's really eating away at them is what they see as homogenizing, lobotomizing, junk culture. Some of the song titles are self-explanatory, such as M.T.V. Get Off the Air; some are deceptively innocent, such as Soup Is Good Food or A Growing Boy Needs His Lunch. The lyrics of the latter are representative: "In lonely gas stations with minimarts/You'll find rows of them for sale/Liquor-filled statues of Elvis Presley/Screw his head off; drink like a vampire." Most of the music is played at a maelstrom punk tempo, though some slow, askew passages featuring guitarist East Bay Ray actually recall the theme song to The Munsters. The bumper-car voice of lead singer Jello Biafra (Hey, Jello, is that your real name?) is jolting at any pace. Frankenchrist is far from inarticulate, but it hasn't a shred of grace. To which the Dead Kennedys would probably respond, "Mission accomplished." (Alternative Tentacles)

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