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The Only CV Newsletter

Articles and Reviews

June 1999
Cobra Verde

Maybe it's just a peculiar brand of left-over Velvet Goldmania, but when every sax player sounds like he just left Roxy Music, every insistent keyboard sounds like the Stooges "I Wanna Be Your Dog," and every novelty bierkeller ballad sounds like a '70s art-rock b-side, then you know that either Cobra Verde have been hanging around some very bizarre street corners or that you have.

Then again, as far back as 1994's Viva Le Muerte, Cobra Verde were chasing hot glam-rock tail, so maybe it's just that the rest of the world has finally caught up with them. But the drunken-swing sleaze of "What Makes a Man a Man" ensures that they'll stay ahead of the pack, simply because there's hardly anyone (Marc Almond probably notwithstanding) who could pull off such gruff ol' camp so well, and no one else who could revisit those same sonic pastures a few songs later ("Pontius Pilate") and pull it off again.

Elsewhere, Cobra Verde contemplate moving into Gorky's Zygotic Mynci territory, albeit from a grittier and less deliberately convoluted direction. The saxes are what make the comparison the loudest. Crank up the guitars, as in "Heaven in the Gutter," and Cobra Verde's reference points change drastically, through punky chords and Stranglers-like vocals; crank them down, and "Back to Venus" gets all Stonesy country-like. Then "Don't Let Me Love You" goes electro-sub-industrial, with bits of Bono in the vocal inflections; and "Crashing in a Plane" is so stridently new wave-ified that it could turn into the Knack's "My Sharona" without a second thought.

All of which gives Nightlife a whacked versatility that utterly belies its coherence, and a sense of musical destiny that is impossible to define. It's just there, and you should all be eternally grateful for that. (Dave Thompson)

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