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Articles and Reviews

From the pages of the CMJ New Music Report, Issue: 631 - Aug 16, 1999

Contrary to popular belief, Cobra Verde is not a glam band. You could label the group as such only if the glitter movement were to have taken place after the '80s' wave of independent, American rock. What Cobra Verde is, however, is a perverse redesign of '70s pomp, as theorized by a megalomaniacal, U.S.-born, Yugoslavian nationalist raised on Midwestern post-punk, cultural theory and the 20th Century avant-garde. On Nightlife, leader/founder John Petkovic hams it up like never before, effectively using fabulously decadent pop and sleazy cabaret prancing to vary his swaggering, smudged-mascara anthems. With a lusty growl and a smirk, he turns self-obsessed, literary lyrics about machismo, the ego and the ladies into a knowingly accessible, yet wholly non-ironic, good time. His mostly new backing cast also masks its sophistication, hiding left-field synths and misplaced horns deep inside extra-large Bolan/Bowie riffs and ballads. Petkovic warps and recontextualizes familiar musical ideas and clichés into a solid, personal vision that works as both an easy, visceral thrill and an intelligent, conceptual tour-de-force. Nightlife may be slicker and less rowdy than earlier CV outings, but it remains a delightfully weird thinking-man's party. - Jordan N. Mamone

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