Record Review - 3 September 04 2003

Combining equal parts Siouxsie and the Banshees with Dieter’s Dance Party, the Vanishing’s debut full-length, Songs for Psychotic Children is 100 percent cultural cannibalism.

With this uneven first outing the group has turned back a few pages to take a modern bite out of yesterday’s leftovers. But, in doing so, it’s impossible not to notice that something has gone sour. The Vanishing is to goth what Andrew W.K. is to a Coors Light commercial. It would be hard to tell if the wide-eyed wailing and bad, high school poetry on this recording are genuine or shtick, if not for the corny cover art.

The first giveaway: No self-respecting goth kids worth their weight in clove cigarettes would allow such a twink of a man to grace the cover of their CD. But luckily for the Vanishing, you can’t judge an album by its cover, and as a consistent, conceptual caricature, Songs For Psychotic Children pulls a few punches.

Lyrically speaking, the songs read like brooding and pretentious non-sequiturs. But the group’s true strengths lie in its razor-sharp synth lines and the gloomy vocal delivery of former Subtonix frontwoman, Jesse Eva. “White Walls” and “Obituary” unfold with a dark and lustful fervor that drives like a stake through a vampire’s heart.

“Princess Poison” and “I’ve Been Dying to Meet You” book-end the recording with a sullen, vacuous drone not unlike that heard throughout Bauhaus’ gothic swansong, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” However, successfully conjuring such an enigmatic spirit requires sincerity.

Bela must be turning in his grave.

The Vanishing plays MJQ Tues., Sept. 9. $5.