MusicRecord Reviews

Pere Ubu: Lady From Shanghai

Weird bands from Ohio should stay weird. With Mark Mothersbaugh soundtracking kids shows and Wes Anderson movies, it’s nice to know that David Thomas and Pere Ubu are still out there, inhabiting their odd interstice between Captain Beefheart and Talking Heads.

“Won’t you come out to play with me, Mandy?” Thomas sings, on “Mandy.” That line from the chorus sounds every bit as creepy as you’d imagine, as the dance beat of the verse gives way to a halting stomp on the chorus, and an otherworldly, almost atonal synth line needles in and out.

There are stretches of noise on the record that hearken back to the bottle-smashing crowd noise on the band’s 1978 debut, The Modern Dance.  The high point comes just before the end, with “414 Seconds.” Thomas sings of doing something horrible. He may or may not have been dreaming, but either way, the sinister guitar line portends disaster.