A sleazy record, a fun record, a party record, a nighttime record, a daytime
record, their second record, a cheap record, a playful record, an aside record,
a saxophone record ("Show Me Your Power"), an ironic record and an ironized record,
a Berlin record, a Playhouse record, a camp record, a serious record, a legit-illegit
flop record, a rubbish record, a bad record, an OK record, a good record,
a great record, a whatever record, a trivial record, a bouncy record, a funny
record, a challenging record ("How well can you dance with a drink in your hands?" "Up
in Flames") but a challenged record, a jumping record, a dancing record, a faux-yuppie
record ("Douse it with champagne!" "Up in Flames") so a tourist record
("Douse it with champagne!"), a sad record, a happy record, a record of the fears
and hopes of the band during recording, a resolved record ("Let's go up in flames!"),
a depressing record ("Let's go up in flames!"), a triumphant record ("Let's go
up in flames!"), an electric-guitar record, a four-four beat record, an incongruous
elements record, a colorful record, a side-1 record, a scary record ("Nothing
in my hand but a gun and frustration!"; "Looking in your eyes and love has turned
to terror!" "Road to Devastation"), a silly record, a rebel record ("I
took some wrong turns but I did it my way!" "Road to Devastation"), a
referencing record, a playing with notions of time and sense record ("Every day
is just an excuse for the night to begin!" "Night to Begin"), a ceding
of authority to physics record ("[We sit and] patiently wait for the night to
begin!" "Night to Begin"), a rave record, a trashy record, a synthy record,
a bassy record, a gassy record, a plinthy record, a "NO SYNTHESISERS!" record,
a zombie record, a sci-fi record, a powerful record and a record about power,
a glam record, a stompy record, a swampy record, a spacy record, a laughing record,
a scowling record, a Lou Reed record, a sexy record, a love record, a
cowbell record, an '80s-sounding record, a Eurythmics record ("Everybody needs
somebody!" "Built to Last"), a sizist record, a nudist record, a liquor
record, and, importantly,
ultimately hold on to your cutlery! all of the
above and: A disco record.
Really it's OK for me to start my review that way, 'cos
they do it themselves. Up in Flames, the second album from Captain Comatose, "Berliners on Playhouse," opens with a similar litany. "Theme From 'Up in Flames' (Cool as Ice)" is punctuated by a list of the Captains' favorite activities or the motivations behind their career, depending on how you see it: "We just enjoy our lives... we like to travel, we like champagne, we like to have fun, we like to go out, we like to see people, we like to meet people, we like to have sex, we like to eat good, we like to do interviews, we like to go on stage, and we like the spotlight, we like the noise, we like the leather sofas, and we like our hotel rooms, we like the mini-bars, we like... tambourines..." This super-cute and self-conscious riff is a shopping list for some dream QVC of the mind and taken as a statement of intent, well, it has to rate with "fuck art, let's dance" as the most ineffectual rouse to battle and contempt I've ever heard. Take it at face value, however, and you'll begin to understand the whim and charm, the fun times and trashy laughs of this queer, disco party-album.
"To My Song" should rake the charts and rend the social fabric alike, but it
won't. "Say Captain" (not included on the vinyl!) is 2005's iconic anthem, exhorting
the captains' exquisite mores with a cocked hip and winking smile. "Up in Flames" is
all menacing '80s comedown and snarled regret upchuck, replete with requisite
fiery chorus and challenged challenging lyrics. There is an airy feeling throughout a
sense that little matters and so they'll dance all night, any way they want,
threatening with each sashay to take off in search of the other worlds.
JD Twitch (one half of the glimmer twins at Optimo) told a great story earlier this year on the ILM message board about playing with the Captains in France, which I think sums up a little of their magic. I've cleared this with Twitch and so I'll share it with you: "Last summer I played with them in Deppe (a tiny, run-down French port). The gig was sponsored by some local cultural institute to bring some entertainment to the culturally starved locals. It was in this big theatre which slowly began to fill up with kids. I was sitting in the auditorium watching it fill up and started to get a feeling of dread as I realised the average age of the audience was about 11. Hmm, that new Trapez 12" I had just bought isn't exactly going to take the roof off here I thought. Anyway, Snax and Khan go on the stage and within 30 seconds the place is in uproar. It was like a Take That comeback concert. None of these kids had ever heard CC before but they instantly fell in love with the music, the words, the singing and the outrageous dance moves. They ended up having to play the whole set twice by which time the kids had sussed some of the words and were singing along, climbing on to the stage, screaming, shrieking and genuinely loving every second of it."
I could write all night and in the morning I would still not produce any of that in the sum of all Neumu readers. That is why I sit here and they are out there, in the Berlin night, explosions in the sky.