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Critikill (Self-released)

This duo (singer Timmie Boose and multi-instrumentalist Craig Pearsall) makes music that sounds like no other band in Cleveland. Equal parts trip-hop, indie rock, drum 'n' bass, and industrial, Critikill has a unique sound that thankfully looks beyond the overplayed hard rock and punk inclinations of most local bands. Pearsall, who plays bass, keyboards, and an array of electronic instruments, has enough high-tech gear to fill a small studio, and despite relying on gadgetry, Critikill, which performs locally on a regular basis, isn't just a studio project, either. It's got an elaborate and involved stage show that usually comes off without a glitch despite the need for a truckload of equipment.

Most of the arrangements on the band's self-titled debut alternately evoke Joy Division, Bjork, and Siouxsie Sioux. The problem is that Boose is inconsistent. In songs such as "Painkiller" and "Me Dot," she sounds terrific, channeling PJ Harvey with her visceral chants. But in "Rejection Perfection," a track that starts with an undulating synthesizer riff, she makes too many obvious (and meaningless) rhymes, pairing the word "perfection" with "reflection," "complexion," and "connection," and going on a self-indulgent rant that's as pretentious as bad performance art. She's equally out of her element in "Low Profile," a song that finds her bellowing "a,e,i,whoa,u" with intoxicated glee, and she's just as abrasive in "Cut Off Your Armslength," in which she experiments with vocal effects to such a degree that her echoing voice -- primal at its core -- sounds artificially enhanced in a way that suggests Critikill isn't always in control of the technology it employs.


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