On any given Saturday night when I feel like losing my head and heading out the door in black eyeliner and gobs of hair product, The Bangkok Five is going to provide my soundtrack.
We Love What Kills Us is the band’s sophomore album and it’s a dose of gutter garage punk notched up with a little industrial soul. Straight out of L.A., The Bangkok Five actually do have five members. Lead singer Frost is so engrossed in his music that his father apparently sent him to a shrink to get sorted out. Turns out that The Bangkok Five is the only way Frost knows how to live.
That dedication to the craft is apparent from the opening notes of We Love What Kills Us. Recorded live on tape to create a buzzing analog sound, this record represents musical purity and baptism by fire. The songs explode, sizzle, pop, burn, and kill.
Keeping true to the roots of L.A., the album is split into an English language and a Spanish language portion. In that respect, this could be almost considered an EP as there are only five English songs that are then re-cut in Spanish. “It was a natural progression to translate We Love What Kills Us into Spanish; this record is about LA and what goes on here. To ignore the Latin culture and its people would to ignore the real Los Angeles,” Frost says on the band’s MySpace page.
The album’s title track begins with a slow passive build and explodes with a scream and proceeds with what seems like a permanent scowl. The melody is addictive and the groove is satisfying, but most captivating of all is the unrelenting force of the song. The Bangkok Five never surrenders.
Part of what makes The Bangkok Five more than just a simple L.A. buzz band proud of their heritage and categorically insane for the sake of music is their connection with fans. The band regularly blogs and maintains their MySpace page, openly participating in the scene as hosts to their brand of poetic justice.
We Love What Kills Us reflects that sensibility, giving rock back to the kids and to the small, smoky clubs where good people do bad things on bad nights. When “Party Machine” kicks up, a sort of industrialized-noir sense kicked me in the gut and I had a desire to go snort lines off of a prostitute. Sorry, honey.
But that’s just it. Maybe Frost and Co. have a point and maybe we do really love what kills us. Maybe this English-Spanish split record speaks all of our languages through the power of notched-up guitars and world-weary vocals. It’s no coincidence that the band’s T-shirts feature slogans like “Shoot Guns, Not Drugs” and “Kill Your Amp; You’re Never Going to Make it, Kid.”
“This One’s For the Haters” explains that “they hate because they’re afraid to love” and suddenly Frost’s message hits me. I put down the eyeliner. I look ridiculous anyway.
Listening to and, in fact, loving to listen to The Bangkok Five isn’t about fitting into a scene. It’s about the sort of lovely cynicism that comes with really having it all figured out. It’s about loving what might do us in. It’s about not being afraid to make that leap.
We Love What Kills Us shows us that The Bangkok Five isn’t afraid. It’s a record full of pop trash in two languages, a stunning collection of five-ten songs that rip through the walls and tells us to love what kills us… even if it… well, you know.