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Vigilance (


Prone to excessive, Halle Berry-style emoting, many dark electronic acts fall prey to a self-absorption that's inadvertently comedic. Hell, the guy from Black Tape for a Blue Girl actually released a record called There's a Cat-Shaped Hole in My Heart after his tabby died. To borrow a line from Denis Leary, "Life's hard, get a helmet."

Similarly brusque is the sophomore effort from the industrial duo Critikill. "Does any morsel of wisdom come out of your piehole?" singer Timmie Boose asks on the album closer "Air Raid." It's a fitting final shot, as Boose is more about menace than melancholy. She doesn't sing so much as speak/spit vitriol and vinegar. Despite Boose's wrath, however, Critikill (rounded out by Craig Pearsall) feels more redemptive than bitter. To hear someone from a genre so closely associated with scab-picking go on the offensive is strangely vitalizing.

And so are the sheaths of distorted bass that peel through "That's No Robbery," transforming a stark synth workup into a rock tongue-wagger -- another instance of this band kicking darkwave in the pants. Elsewhere, jagged guitar tussles with saturated beats, drum 'n' bass is mated with burping Casio pop, and ominous vocal effects are juxtaposed with what sounds like angry monks chanting.

The album's Achilles' heel is Boose's tendency to put rhyme scheme above content ("Oh me, Oh my, I got somethin' in my eye/It could be all a lie/I overbaked my finger pie"). Moreover, the band could stand to trim down its overlong songs a bit and flesh out the abundance of ideas in each cut into a number of different tracks. Still, Vigilance is a tough, infectious record, demonstrating that Critikill doesn't cry over spilled milk. Or blood.

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