Hot Wet & Sassy, the newest album from Portland-based experimental AND electronic outfit Tobacco, saunters through dripping, eclectic beats and saturated synthesizers. Anyone who’s seen a Tobacco concert knows that frontman Thomas J. Fec has a penchant for pairing the unlikely. Bright, keyboard melodies rise over crushing Hot Wet & Sassy, which rolls along with causal savagery.
“Centaur Skin” sees gorgeous keyboard tones overtaken by a ringing melody that sounds somewhere between a Skinny Puppy remix track and an early Crystal Castles cut. Few of the lyrics are remotely distinguishable, but lyricism is not why you listen to Tobacco.
With crushing shifts between searing, metallic guitar distortion ultra-pop, sensible hooks, Hot Wet & Sassy finds a balance between accessibility and a hefty dose of sonic insanity. Tracks like “Chinese Aquarius” waste zero time splintering back from verse to the massive, soul-crushing chorus. With the exception of the first and last track, all the songs on Hot Wet & Sassy fall around the two-and-a-half-minute mark, resulting in continued immediacy. Multiple-styled oscillations blend and flow from track to track with a harsh effortlessness. Pairing freakish intensity with a critical undercurrent, Hot Wet & Sassy is a musical Frankenstein.
Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, a fellow devotee of saturated synth tones, collaborates on the “Babysitter”, which blisters with an extra layer of grim, white guitar distortion that snaps back and forth from a spacey interlude drop with more than a little sarcasm. Other tracks, such as “Road Warrior,” feature deceptively gorgeous keyboards soaring over a punchy electronic beat, accented by ’80s-styled electronic drums. Tobacco’s styles are jarring but therein lies the point. Hot Wet & Sassy is a smoking set of high-octane, ultra-melodic electro experimentation.
By David Lacroix. Originally published with Spill Magazine