The King Khan & BBQ Show Invisible Girl Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

This is bittersweet pre-Beatles pop sparked into life by Nuggets-style garage.

Nadine McBay 2009

It may be the name of a Hindu god, but this duo imbues Anala, the name of the opening track of their third album, with a filthy innuendo that’ll have you reaching for the scrubbing brush. Or is that just me? With its saccharine, doo-wop backing melody, clammy hand-claps and grubby rhythms, this is a different proposition to the tight-bottomed funk of Khan’s side-stepping, tambourine-walloping band of unlikely rock‘n’roll mercenaries King Khan & The Shrines.   

It’s not that the Germany-based Indo-Canadian necessarily requires such show-stopping backing; his dynamite yelping and RnB balladeering is clearly modelled on James Brown – and it’s not a bad likeness at all. And Khan, after all, is a man whose lewd behaviour has got himself banned from so many clubs he makes the notoriously dissolute Black Lips – with whom he and BBQ collaborated on their Almighty Defenders project earlier this year – look like Taylor Swift. Still, here his vocals only play a supporting role to those of BBQ, aka Mark Sultan, Khan’s old sparing partner in Canadian garage delinquents The Spaceshits.   

Comparisons with Sam Cooke may be a little ambitious, but on the schizoid lament Third Ave., Sultan is a teen idol gone to seed, a smacked-up post-Teenager In Love Dion DiMucci, the track’s delicate arpeggios occasionally dissolving into sludgy guitars and misfiring organs. And rather than The Shrines’ brass-punctured soul, this is bittersweet pre-Beatles pop sparked into life by Nuggets-style garage, and Velvets-forged noise-pop.   

From the ringing folk of the title track, through surf, bubblegum and dead-eyed trash, King Khan & BBQ Show’s reverence for early pop is so strong they’re eye-winking subversives not karaoke kings. Indeed: this is the perfect soundtrack to Daniel Johnston’s stalked-eyed snails and demonic infant cartoons; hugely talented, endearing and a little disturbing. Though Sultan’s rudimentary time-keeping becomes a little wearing now and again, Invisible Girl packs a mightier blow than what might be expected from two garage throwbacks jamming in a Berlin bunker.   

No pre-Beatles spoof, it’s nevertheless fun, the record’s flat production making nonsense, goofy tracks such as Animal Party sound like a Pebbles album being blasted on a Dansette – next door.

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