November 09, 1992 12:00 PM

Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine

Don’t be fooled by a band name and album title that suggest a disco revival. This British duo has delivered an unloving, unsexy and extremely intelligent third album. Band mates Jim Bob (Jim Morrison) and Fruitbat (Leslie Carter) garnish their synthrock songs with a dollop of cynical, sarcastic humor.

The titles and lyrics, which seem as lighthearted as the jumpy rhythms of the drum machines, usually hide dark double meanings. “Is Wrestling Fixed?” expresses disillusionment merely by posing rhetorical questions like the title. In “Do Re Me, So Far So Good” singer Jim Bob ridicules mind-numbing pop and compares himself to Shakespeare’s avenging Macduff.

Jim Bob has the kind of clipped British accent that always sounds wicked and witty, particularly as he twists outworn homilies to new use. In “England,” a forceful dig at his home turf, he sings, “Oh come all ye faithful, joyful, triumphant and pathetically weak.”

Because of the popping arrangements, the songs never sink too far into depression. Jim Bob and Fruitbat, who share duties on guitars and synthesizers, make dramatic transitions from lush symphonic cadences to macho rock rhythms or spare vaudeville-style oompah heats. The final number, a rendition of “The Impossible Dream,” pushes contradiction over the limit. As synthesizers churn out crashing percussion and majestic chords, Jim Bob screams, “This is my quest/ To follow that star!” Turning himself into a rock Don Quixote, he desperately tries to seize a moment of hope in a decade when idealism often seems like a joke. (Chrysalis)

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