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 Disfigured
Artist: Aleixa
Label: Bulletproof Records
Length: 12 songs/58:30 minutes
The main musical force behind Aleixa, Kevin 131 (don't ask about the  numbers), once remarked that his band bore the sound of "Debbie Gibson in a  blender." A few years later, Debbie Gibson's star has been eclipsed by  even younger, peppier new teen singers. Perhaps these days Kevin 131 is  referring to Aleixa as "Britney Spears in a blender." Regardless, this  tongue-in-cheek description is, of course, not entirely accurate. Aleixa is an electronic dance music band with industrial shades souped up by gobs of  effectively layered, aggressive rhythm guitar. The vocals are handled  principally by Laurel Snapper, who has a powerful delivery suited for the energy of these tracks. Although Aleixa has balanced the indubitably feminine feeling of Snapper's vocals with Kevin 131's more aggressive, alpha-male music chops, there is nothing  too sweet or overly saccharine enough about Aleixa's alternative mix to really qualify for Spears comparisons. But in a better world, it would be Aleixa's smart bits of computerized, edgy pop that would be winning audiences on the radio and heavy MTV rotation.

Disfigured is Aleixa's second album, and a step up from their debut Honeylake. Sacrificing a bit of the experimental edge and wild diversity of its predecessor, Aleixa has employed a more consistent club mix throughout on their latest. Hearts and feet made for dancing while find a happy path with this project, and the production quality of this mix is dense but impressive. Highlights include the horn-infused "Black + Blue," the relentless energy of "Await," and the reverent remake of the Duran Duran's  classic "The Reflex."

When Honeylake was first released, the band was overly criticized for  their use of dark themes and imagery in their lyrics. Frankly, I never understood the controversy in the first place, but new listeners may or may not find similar grounds for contention in the dark matter of  Disfigured depending on how much attention they spend on the lyrical details. Laural  Snapper as the principal lyricist is no Bob Dylan, and yet her simple messages of faith and hope are appropriate for these dance tracks and our times. Her lyrics are largely about the estranging effects of sin and our need for complete identification with our savior. The fact that that message is occasionally wedded to dark images only reinforces the gravity of Christ's suffering and resurrection power. Snapper's word choice may also be effectively sparse, but those looking for stronger theological statements are better off with a good book than these booty-shaking beats.

After awhile, the lack of variety in these tracks takes a toll. The relentless energetic assault while not only leave you hot and sweaty from the throws of dancing, but you'll also be exhausted long before the album closes with a remix of "Await." But for the sure-footed marathon dance members out there, Disfigured provides plenty of ways for you to hurt yourself on the dance  floor while reflecting on a healed heart.

Steven S. Baldwin   12/17/99


 

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