"Showtime at the Apocalypse"

(Omega Point Records 2002)Mystechs - Showtime at the Apocalypse

Remember the 80s? Remember the beeps, buzzes and all of those other sounds that were unique to those early video game systems? Take that sound and refine it so that it sounds musical without playing Pac Man for five hours straight. Add a little of this and a pinch of that and you, more or less, have Chicago's Mystechs. While that description really doesn't give the band enough credit, "Showtime at the Apocalypse" is loosely framed by a retro feel, without being the focus of the music.

The Mystechs open strongly. The first, and title, track is full of fun electronic beats and pulses with simple guitar riff mixed in. While not only being catchy, the song has enough going on to keep you interested without distracting. Switching to female lead vocals on "White Boys," The Mystechs come out full force, most notably, in their lyrics. "Sure, you got your equal rights/Too bad they don't mean shit/Cause in the end, it's a white boys' world/And you're just living in it," sing Suzy Brack. "Shouldn't Be Dancing" further shows the band's dark sense of humor: rather upbeat music with cynical lyrics, which are less forward than "White Boys," but still carry a similar tone.

Switching back to male lead vocals, "Captains of Industry," has syncopated Devo-esque verses that balance out the electronic music. "The Last Man Alive On Earth," meanwhile, is a sleazy little song; think lounge act despite mixing in upbeat piano sounds, which actually add to the sound. On "Crushed Tomatoes," the music cleverly decrescendos, catching the listener's ear, as they hear "So I tried to start a cult/But I couldn't make any converts/Then I tried to shoot a porno/But I wasn't enough of a pervert." The Mystechs change the texture on "By and By" by adding more bass and, compared to earlier, less obvious electronic pulses. "My Kind of Slum" tries to pick up the energy of the beginning of the album. However, this time there seems to be too much going on. Relatively stripped down, "Skyscraper" is simple, so much so that it gets your attention. Closing with "Radio Ghosts," incorporate accordion into this slower song. With its familiar melody, "Radio Ghosts," offers another attention grabber by doing something you haven't heard previously on the album.

"Showtime at the Apocalypse" isn't the most original: many of the melodies are familiar, yet you can't always put your finger on why, and the politics aren't new concepts. But the pulses and rhythms of half of the tracks are decent for dancing while the remaining tracks demonstrate an admirable attempt at diversity. Ignoring that, The Mystechs have smart lyrics and a good sense of humor.