12 Rounds

Williamette College Mag Review of My Big Hero

My Big Hero 12 Rounds (Nothing/Interscope)

Of related interest: Portishead, Ruby, Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand” No sooner had the term “trip-hop” been coined than dour troubadours such as Tricky and Portishead began creeping up the charts like spooky musical spiders. Now we’ve got 12 Rounds sneaking in from the corner. While the standard ingredients–slow, loping drums, the wavering hum of warped samples, the breathy rasp and gasp of some lovesick waif–are stirred around, this British duo adds a drop of bubbling evil to the cauldron, and vocalist Claudia Sarne has more vinegar in her than the majority of these sad-sack singers. Unlike Beth Gibbons, who makes me want to wipe her smeared mascara and coo comforting words in her ear, Sarne inspires a lusty desire to get dirty and devious; even with her trilling Jennifer Tilly voice she’s able to pull off a laughable line like “Put me in the juicer and come drink me.” Occasionally the music stumbles into the daylight, spinning too long in a sunny spot; these types of songs need to lurk in back alleyways where rats scurry and shadows cover any scars. For the most part, however, 12 Rounds know their way through the dark. If you take them by the hand, they’ll probably show you the way, too. John Graham