The roller rink is cracked. Summer is seeping in. The lacquered floor boards are all warped, but the disco ball spins. Ladies and gentlemen, Black Moth Super Rainbow has left the woods, and the man called Tobacco lords over a gang of demon skaters from the DJ booth of some greased up auditorium in a lost corner of Pittsburg. The band’s fifth LP Cobra Juicy declares death to hippies, excising all things flower power and tightening up what sprawl there was into a nastily bright pile of fuzzed guitar, live bass, hot synths and stubby rhythms—eleven pieces of hard candy licked, dipped in dirt, and wrapped up for you.
There nearly wasn’t a new Black Moth record at all. In hindsight, 2009’s Eating Us seemed too soft, too ‘70s. Tobacco felt he’d lost control of his main project’s sound and so focused on “solo” work. But while crafting 2010’s depraved beat beast Maniac Meat, he found himself writing more freely, rediscovering the sickly sour to Black Moth’s sweet. Then he realized, fuck it, this thing is his baby anyhow. He cleaned house on the live band—now Seven Fields of Aphelion, Iffernaut, Ryan Graveface and Bullsmear—and got to work, alone, on a brand new BMSR album. Then he threw that one away and made Cobra Juicy.
Opener “Windshield Smasher” lays down the difference with a hefty thud. The grinding electric guitar and smacking drumbeat play like de-glammed arena metal before the gooped-up electronics arrive. It’s a more aggressively skewed pop, instantly followed by the drop-top drift of “Like a Sundae,” whose melted melodies ride atop a sturdy bed of modern blips and bloops. “Hairspray Heart” is another early highlight, boasting a thickly Rick Rubinesque beat while Tobacco wickedly chants, “I can hypnotize you.” Later, “Gangs in the Garden” splices ‘80s robo-pop with DFA dance for more beautifully upbeat violence.
There are quieter moments too, but Cobra Juicy lets them live in their own time. “Psychic Love Damage” takes its name from the scrapped album and—along with its neighbor “We Burn,” combines rattling slide guitar with cascades of crystal synth and bit-damaged MPC drums. The aptly named “Dreamsicle Bomb” is glassy and gorgeous, its reverbed notes and shuffling drums eventually clarifying in a bassy breakdown suggestive of Matthew Dear’s productions. “Smash all the mailboxes and headlights,” Tobacco whispers in a snakelike sibilance, while “Spraypaint” is surprisingly sweet— a love song Black Moth style.
In some ways, Cobra Juicy is the most personal Black Moth Super Rainbow record yet. In other ways, it kinda just wants you to get out there, strap on some wheels, sew a back-patch onto a denim vest, and start a Warriors-style gang tailored to whatever overheated dystopia you call home in 2012. The album will be self-released and funded via Kickstarter, where fans will be able to purchase Cobra Juicy in actual mask form—a latex rictus modeled after the possessed citrus on the cover, music on a USB tooth jammed into the grinning maw. Also, for $10,000, Tobacco will throw you your own roller disco. Really.