Superficial Artificial (Mona Mona)
Ian Curtis was dangling from a rope and the Blitz Club was already a memory by the time the members of Petroleum By-Product were born. But Europe’s early ’80s soundtrack of glacial synths and punk energy might be where these locals have found their inspiration. On Superficial Artificial they cleverly satirize what they’ve dubbed the 21st century “monoculture” of social media and antisocial everything else with some of the most oddly apt and downright fierce electropop since David Bowie was being all angular in front of the Berlin Wall. Imagine the three-piece pulling on garbage bags and sticking their wet fingers in light sockets prior to recording and you might get the picture. This is high voltage stuff, with the super-excited, ramshackle rush of tracks like “TV Date” and “Ain’t Got Money” making the synth sound like it was finally invented last week.
Petroleum By-Product avoids getting mired in its own monoculture of three chord tantrums and rat-a-tat dancebeats with the album opener “Mad About Plaid” (which brings a fanged version of the B-52s to mind) and out-there moments like “Somethin’ Somethin’”, and the Sparks-y “Gangrene”. The latter ends Superficial Artificial with an especially weird and irresistible hook built on a simple modulation and some impressively operatic yowling from vocalist Sally Dige Jí¸rgensen. It’s the kind of track that sounds like it was written in minutes at the end of the recording session, fueled by the work that preceded it but inspired by something from another dimension entirely. It points to a great phase two for the band, even as Superficial Artificial is one hell of a start.
Download This: “Gangrene”