Electric 6 has been able to amass ridiculous amounts of praise in England, where the band is seen as an unabashedly snarky, party-centered Queen update. Originally a scruffier, low-rent Roxy Music when it was the Wildbunch, it has since gone more cock-rockin' parody. On its latest, Señor Smoke (Metropolis) -- its first release in three years -- the joke gets bigger sonically, thinner thematically. The group is entering the inevitable "take us more seriously" phase, as is its tourmate, the Fever.
Also sprung from an overhyped scene, the Fever shares some of its Brooklyn, New York neighbors' new-wave traits (Devo beats, analog keys). What saves the Fever from boho dance-rock fatigue is its swamp-rock center, blurry burlesque lyricism, and a stomping live show. Like the Flesh Eaters or Gun Club gone vaudeville, the Fever reassembles its chopped beats, wiggly vocals, and decadent dreams in that post-industrial answer to a cemetery, the automobile graveyard, enveloped in an eerie, spent metallic uneasiness, abetted by clunky, wood-block percussion à la Tom Waits. Its latest, In the City of Sleep (Kemado), is an impressive leap -- one of the year's best.