From the impressive bulge in his hot pants, the Ark’s Ola Salo hasn’t suffered a botched sex-change operation. Still, listening to The State of the Ark, it’s easy to imagine him starring in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. After all, the Swedish quintet’s first stateside release cuts a rug on the same glam-pop cloth as that musical’s sound track, referencing Queen and the Scissor Sisters while Salo sends shout-outs to “every baldheaded chick with a dick, every queer that is here.” But hey, don’t dismiss them as niche — or, worse, marginal. Back home, the Ark battle the minions of teen-pop songwriting maestro Max Martin for chart supremacy, and “One of Us is Gonna Die Young” beats unitard fads the Darkness at their own cowbells ’n’ power chords shtick. And while the Ark probably won’t have crossover success here, that says more about America’s refusal to embrace a song defending gays’ right to be parents (“Father of a Son”) than about the Ark’s undeniably accessible sound. (Check the hip-whipping swagger of “Clamour for Glamour” or “Trust is Shareware,” a stomping throwback to ’70s AM radio.) With its frivolity buoyed by real songcraft, State of the Ark is summertime music for any lifestyle.
Jimmy Draper writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].