The Heartfelt

Figurine's first record,Transportation * Communication = Love, was possibly the best melancholy gay dance record of the '90s. It was an underground, morose pop album, with minimalist beats, fake British accents, and lyrics about UFOs and robotic lovers. Since its 1999 release, Figurine's legion of fans has increased (with definite thanks to the '80s wave revival--merci beaucoup, Human League!). The Heartfelt is what you'd expect--the same sort of cheap keyboard beats, buzzing samples that sound like computers, and singers with all the energy of a poetry-writing teen on the verge of suicide. It's great! The requisite Japanese influences are there, and some of the songs even sound like the background music to those Japanese dance games where you have to make your character kick out the sick moves with the joystick. The Heartfelt makes me feel gayer than the Pet Shop Boys. JULIANNE SHEPHERD

Double Exposure

(Thrill Jockey)

I listen to Trans Am or the Champs at least once a day. They epitomize everything I love about music--instru-metal that doesn't take itself too seriously, with spare, sometimes goofy lyrics, and a restrained but expert use of electronics. So I would expect those bands' supergroup, the TransChamps, to be the most righteous band ever, but instead, they're just weird. They halfheartedly slide between trying to be all Trans Am or all Champs. When they're one unit, they sound like '70s classic rock--or, even weirder, '70s sitcom music. "The Big Machine," which is the best song, starts out with an awesome fast, techno-like use of synth and drum machines layered with metal riffs. I think the TransChamps smoked a blunt before recording, so it ends up being funny, but not the explosion I wished for. KATIE SHIMER


The Dictators were cool enough to get snagged on the fringe of punk during the '70s. Easy... they were in NYC circa '75, and they stood out by solid, rockin', CHEEKY, albeit Kiss-like, action (sans Kiss' "wet dream" attitude). Anyway, DFFD is the first Dictators full-length in 20-odd years, which is cool... but it's kinda weird. At first, I figgered it was weird 'cause I missed Mark "The Animal" Mendoza's giant fuckin' AFRO!! Then I realized it WAS the record. Tho' the Dictators are still relatively, uh, "effective"... overall, in the contemporary context where explicit "biting social commentary " is common, their pisstakes seem to be lacking. DFFD sounds vacant... it sounds "new"... which slights their virulent punch. Now, I AIN'T sayin' DFFD is suckass... but the "kids" have since caught up to the Dictators of "20 years ago," and now them Dictators gotta work to get past the kids. MIKE NIPPER