I’ve been an unabashed fan of She Wants Revenge from the first moment I heard “Tear You Apart” almost four years ago. Oh, sure, the band (really a duo — Justin Warfield and Adam “DJ Adam 12” Bravin — expanded live to a quartet) copiously borrowed sonically from Joy Division, New Order and Depeche Mode, but Justin and Adam put such a fresh, dance floor-ready spin on it, that the aping was just fine. I gobbled up the “These Things” EP, then the self-titled full-length, then the eagerly-awaited follow-up, “This is Forever,” and ultimately the band’s last EP, “Save Your Soul.”
Those albums form a fairly cohesive aural snapshot of the band’s first four years, staying close to the darkwave groove first unleashed upon hipster bars of the world in 2005, sometimes adding more subtle textures, sometimes getting more funky, but generally keeping alive the flames of Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees and their ’80s counterparts. But with the release of “Up and Down,” She Wants Revenge puts that all in the past.
Welcome to She Wants Revenge 2.0.
Adam (I’m eschewing the formality of last names here as Adam is someone I’d consider a fair acquaintance, and let that be my full disclosure) has been hinting — OK, overtly broadcasting — on Twitter for the last few months that SWR has been making music by which to have sex. He wasn’t exaggerating. He and Justin have almost completely shed their ’80s postpunk sound (save for the EP’s instrumental, “Love Me”) for something entirely contemporary. From the opening, booming pulse of “Your Love” to the whiplash synths of “A Little Bit Harder Now,” SWR has found the place where Justin Timberlake meets Prince meets The Faint.
Justin’s distinctive robotic baritone and visual storytelling is still intact, but it’s been accented by raps hearkening back to his MC days (remember Bomb the Bass’ “Bug Powder Dust?”). As well, the duo is joined by new discovery ZinaStar on “All Wound Up,” where she delivers a Pussycat Dolls-style verse as well as background vocals.
The more goth-inclined members of SWR’s fan base might be put off by the suddenly mainstream club-friendly sound, but if they’re not able to grow with the band, then they’re missing out. This is pure ass-shaking ear candy you can enjoy without feeling guilty. And it’s made by two dudes who, I can confirm, are real people, writing their own music, playing in a real band that plays real venues. And they’re doing it all without the support of a major record label, so that $5 you should drop on iTunes today for “Up and Down” is money well spent.