The cover of Kill Me Tomorrow's full-length debut, The Garbageman and the Prostitute, looks like shit. Which isn't to say that the artwork (illustrated by KMT bassist K8 Wince) is necessarily shitty, but that it quite literally looks like excrement--filthy, glitter-coated red-brown splotches methodically splashed across a skyline of pink and green neon. Somewhere in the corners of that description lies a metaphor for the aesthetic Kill Me Tomorrow have been carefully cultivating for the last eight years--theirs is a filthy, seedy sound thoughtfully constructed from what sounds like a heaping pile of Southern California's societal refuse. But, you know, in a good way.
Formed in Portland in 1997, the husband/wife duo of Wince and Zack Wentz moved to San Diego shortly thereafter, and have since spent the early oughts reworking the band's art pop beginnings into a willfully squalling, industrial-strength art-rock ensemble. Combining both drum machines and a cocktail drum kit with heavily processed guitars and other electronics, the band's sound is the sort that journalists commonly call "art-damaged"--a meaningless hyphenation that, if anything, undermines the band's heavy-handed artistry. Over the course of a handful of EPs and a single full-length, the now three-piece Kill Me Tomorrow (augmented by guitarist Dan Wise) has evolved into a sort of comprehensive art project--an umbrella imprint that includes visual art, film, clothing design, a novel, and at least one separate band, the couple's similarly caustic Tender Buttons. Last year's The Garbageman and the Prostitute, for example, is a multimedia effort that straddles 13 tracks of pulp depravity, an accompanying DVD, and a long-delayed novel--all of which adhere similarly to the band's soiled aesthetic.
Throughout the record, Wentz, the son of an English professor, rasps a sordid, sci-fi narrative of transsexual assassins, porn-star stalkers, werewolves, and a Xerox clairvoyant--all beneath a driving wall of noise, with a pulse that's diffused enough to defy the hint of dance-punk monotony. It's a garbage dump of imagery, of sound, of intent--awash with the same glorious stench that seems to haunt everything the band touches. In a good way.