Their 12 track album “We Have an Agenda” sparked a lot of interest upon its release in 2002 due to its sleazy, trashy nature that combined a devilish punk glamour with provocative electro beats. Alongside Roi Robertson, come Tobi Chandler and Bruce Lovelock in the recording process.
Before diving head first into this seductive parade of British electro trash, let’s take a shot at judging the book by its cover. “We Have an Agenda” comes in a jewel box with a front cover featuring a collage of inverted images displayed on a film strip. On first sight, a human head coupled with an empty glass bottle and a syringe gives the viewer mixed signals. One is lead to believe that there is a sick meaning behind this album and that isn’t far from the truth: this album is sick, it’s trashy, and it’s sleazy, but charming all the way. You will enjoy the self-definition of the genres followed by this album: “Shrink wrapped neurotic boy electro stutter lo-fi gamma industrial synth punk” printed on the left side of the front cover, this absurd panel of words serve as a warning for what you’re about to receive musically and lyrically from this band. The back cover shows sloppy fonts, a true insight on the creation process with cuts and rewrites of the song titles above a picture of Roi Robertson. Opening the jewel case, you will be surprised not to find a booklet with lyrics, rather a sleeve featuring another disturbing collage, this time showing Roi, Tobi and Bruce next to a hook pacifier, a raw chicken head coming out of a drain, another syringe and the centerpiece: a pair of floral knickers with distinct “we have an agenda” writing on them.
The first track of the album “We Have an Agenda” starts off the album in an inoffensive manner but it does give out an initial touch that this record is putting out, that of an intimate journey through the genuine personal turmoil of Roi Robertson’s life. This definitely shows that he has an agenda with this project and that he will crack through the mundane stereotypes of electronica creating fresh, off-color music and you’re subject to it without any boundaries. The educated ear could find subtle hints of SOFT CELL’s style bursting through the aural patterns of this song.
The eerie beginning of the second track “Nothing Special” betrays the title: we’re pumped into raw electronics and we feel a slight THROBBING GRISTLE vibe from the sounds creating using household appliances. The straightforward lyrics drip with British sophistication and humorous hostility: “You’re boring and pointless, so get out of my way / ‘Cos I’m something special, / I’m something else, / I’m also not you – which definitely helps”. This second track sinks into the overall state of mind that this album conveys; it’s rough, raw electronics harmonizing into modern electro rhythms.
An interesting twist to this album comes with “Horripilations”, the 4th song off the record. This slightly lower tempo creation strangely makes us think of a FAD GADGET meets KRAFTWERK scenario mostly owed to the that very raw electronic sound that you can’t find in other projects, maybe a bit in earlier FAD GADGET, but MECHANICAL CABARET’s take on this form of synths is unmatched especially for a post-2000s act.
“Is normal abnormal” could easily pass for the title track of the album not only due to its dance floor charm or its open lyrics, but also the stripping beats that pull you into a parade of sounds and harmonies. Dark British humor tickles you in “A Slapdash Affair” and the simple eerie soundtrack that these witty lyrics are arranged to excites your aural sense into an electrogasm.
All together “We Have an Agenda” is a neatly composed album enforced by its witty humorous lyrical content. The electronic energy sent out by this record isn’t your usual synthpop cup of tea, but that’s what makes it worth listening to.
Artist: MECHANICAL CABARET
Album: We Have an Agenda
Label: Soiled Records GmbH
Release year: 2002
- We Have an Agenda
- Nothing Special
- Meat Closet
- Lets Have Some Fun
- Mein Fuhrer
- Is Normal Abnormal
- A Slapdash Affair
- When We Go, We Go Together