They may call themselves Mommy and Daddy, but this isn’t your parents’ abrasive dance-punk music. The married NYC duo of Vivian Saratt and Edmond Hallas released an album full of abrasive intensity that is loud, trashy, and on par with what would have been if Richard and Linda Thompson collaborated with Suicide. Having toured with the likes of Thunderbirds Are Now!, Bloc Party, and Xiu Xiu, the duo have made a name for themselves on the road and known for their furious live shows. Duel at Dawn is now the spark to ignite their moment in the sun. While trading off duties on the bass, vocals, and keys, Saratt can deliver a wicked tongue lashing like your mommy did when you were little and drew on the wall with crayons. Meanwhile, Hallas lays down a brutal beating with his own skills, begging the obligatory “Who’s you’re daddy?!!!”
From the beginning, Duel at Dawn hits you like a jab in the face. Whether it be on the beat fracas of “Pretty Loser,” with its Go-Go’s-esque harmonies, or the gritty and abrasive blues in “A Good Deal,” the blow will not be softened. “Cops” has an industrial metal stomp reminiscent of Ministry, laced with some really spooky fright night keyboard licks. Duel at Dawn keeps pace on the us-against-them bravado in “Way West Way,” a song fit for dancing as it rains down pure acid house high ends.
However, Saratt’s pinnacle moment on the album is most assuredly on the Krautrock punk gumbo in “Lost the Plot,” where she sings like she is a female reincarnation of Joey Ramone. I’ve never seen Mommy and Daddy live but I can assume that when performing this song on stage she is standing in the same stature as Joey always did looking like he was about to kick someone while waving around his long forearms in a vertical position, index finger sticking straight up. “Top Dawn” has a good beat to goose step along with (not that you should goose step unless you are a Republican) and Hallas provides a hot rod riff to an arty chassis of raw drum n’ bass skitter on “The Streets Have Come Alive.” But what is really perplexing is how plentiful the truly bastardized lo-fi electro is on the knob-twiddle-a-thon that is “Already Warm.”
Remember that episode of Seinfeld when Kramer found out that Mom and Pop from Mom and Pop’s Shoe Repair weren’t really a mom and pop? Well I’ve got news for you people. Mommy and Daddy aren’t really a mommy or a daddy. They own a cat. A fucking cat!! Does that count?! I don’t really know but they have made one bitchin’ album, so I’ll let it slide.