Drugs, Sex & Discotheques

Dec 5, 2001 at 12:00 am

Donning skintight, U.K. flag print shirts and Simon LeBon hair in their best attempt at ’80s Brit-boy drag, the Prima Donnas don’t live in pop’s New Wave past simply for artistic or aesthetic reasons. No, these three hunka-hunkas are more pragmatic than that: They wanna get it up, get it on and get off.

And as horny lads who grew up on the synth-sex appeal of Duran, Devo and Depeche, they know that exploiting and exaggerating that scene’s legacy of sexual deviance and drug-addled decadence is the best way to ensure their own between-the-sheets shenanigans: “Nance music’s gonna get you laid/Boy-on-boy! Girl-on-girl!/And every other combination in the world!”

It makes sense, then, that the Prima Donnas’ impossibly perfect rock-disco tracks make some of the strongest cases for dance floor fornication yet.

Recreating the dated, tin-can keyboards and throbbing electro din of the early ’80s on Drugs, Sex & Discotheques, they’ve made a horny, hilariously cheeky and thoroughly enjoyable full-length debut that brilliantly blurs lines between parody, homage, rip-off and retro re-invention.

On insta-classics such as “Skin of Another Man” and “Yr So Cool,” Julius Seizure and Nikki Holiday make “nu” waves with backing vocals and knob noodles. Meanwhile, Otto Matik, with his spastic-elastic sneer, is spinning fictionalized autobiographical tales about misplaced bikini bottoms, schizo sickies and (ahem) the ever-handy Skin So Soft.

What ultimately sets the Prima Donnas’ melodramatic narratives and rock-electronics apart from today’s riffraff of retro musicians, however, is the band’s unbridled enthusiasm and lust for life. Acts such as Ladytron use ’80s music as an expression of isolation — technology as depersonalization — but Seizure, Holiday and Matik hear those beep-bleeps as invitations, however twisted, to find companionship on the dance floor. For them, music makes the people come together: “One-on-one or five-on-one/I want to never dance alone.”

Not a straightforward ’80s throwback by any definition, Drugs, Sex & Discotheques has cheaper, more fulfilling thrills and more bounce per ounce than any of today’s club play lists. So tune in, turn on and shake your LeBon-bon.

E-mail Jimmy Draper at [email protected].