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MAJESTY CRUSH (Buy CDs by this artist)
Fan EP (Vulva) 1992
Love 15 (Vulva/Dali) 1993
Sans Muscles EP (Vulva) 1994

Detroit's Majesty Crush specialized in lush, dreamy guitar rock of the Galaxie 500/shoegaze variety, but gave it a nasty twist: a fascination with pornography and stalkers. The four-piece band (with inaudible connections to the city's techno scene) suffered from singer David Stroughter's habit of restraining melodies to one or two notes, but the rhythm section of bassist Hobey Echlin and drummer Odell Nails III (both ex-Spahn Ranch) was surprisingly powerful, and Michael Segal's guitar kept everything shimmery and lovely-no matter how dark the lyrical vision.

The Fan EP starts off with Majesty Crush's nominal anthem, "No. 1 Fan," a love song of the sort that inspires restraining orders; in the chorus, Stroughter breathily intones, "I'd kill the President for your love." The four other songs are slow, whooshy and of a piece, including a re-recording of the band's first single, "Sunny Pie," an ode to a check-out clerk at an X-rated bookstore.

Love 15 reprises "No. 1 Fan," "Horse" and "Penny for Love" from the EP and also contains remakes of three songs from early singles, with nicer production all around. The stalker theme continues in the new "Uma" and "Seles," plus "Boyfriend," which appears to be an offer to win somebody's love by torturing and killing her significant other. Creepy.

Dali Records went out of business almost immediately upon the release of Love 15, so the band released Sans Muscles on its own Vulva label (so named after a hoax, in the fanzine You Can't Hide Your Love Forever, involving an all-black female speed-metal band). The production is relatively on the cheap again, but the band is tougher and tighter than ever. It wouldn't be a Majesty Crush record without re-recordings, so "Uma" reappears under the name "Bestower of Blessings." The highlight, though, is "If JFA Were Still Together," whose lyric proceeds from the assumption that JFA was not a hardcore band but an actual army devoted to protecting John Hinckley's favorite young actress.

[Douglas Wolk]