12 Rounds

Review by Slamm Magazine of My Big Hero

12 Rounds My Big Hero (Nothing Records)

12 Rounds is many things. Sexy and scary. Seductive and repulsive. Pleasant and putrid. 12 Rounds is Claudia Sarne and Atticus Ross, two Londoners who keep themselves poised on the fine line between innocence and deviance, whose twisted and beautiful pieces of pop confection melt in your mouth like chocolate—and then leave a distinctly bilious aftertaste. My Big Hero, the group’s first LP for Nothing Records, plays like Garbage in hell. Strange synth effects and techno beats wrap themselves around eerie ambient noises and live instruments, while Sarne’s smokey voice drips with saccharine and stomach acid. Her voice conjures images of a satanic PJ Harvey; as a duo, Sarne and Ross appear to be the Bizarro version of Portishead. “Pleasant Smell,” the first single, mixes a slow, drunken beat with acoustic and electric guitar, as well as an assortment of tweeks, bleeps, and buzzes, as Sarne’s vocals slither through the noise with reserved urgency. “Where Fools Go,” meanwhile, samples the thick, alarming organs in Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand,” giving the cut just the right amount of campy horror. And the playful synths on”Sunshine” are both eerie and fun, sounding like a techno carnival on crack. Sarne sounds most Shirley Mansonesque on “Bovine.” The popping, distorted drumbeat and simplistic, plodding bass line practically beg the track be compared to Garbage’s “I’m Only Happy When It Rains.” But the formula works, and 12 Rounds’ blend of electronica, pop and goth seeps under the skin and contaminates the listener with its infectious hooks and dark themes. —Frank Vella