Earlier in the decade Matt Sims was basically a medium-gear shock-rocker. He tongued eyeliner off the nearest cheekbone, bucked like the Royal Nonesuch, and generally begged to be tarred and feathered. But behind the risque set pieces and the public/pubic conflation was the oddball popmart of Ultrasex and that Madonna remix that Charles Manson inspired. Ultrasex, the slippery, astringent debut of Sims’ alter ego Mount Sims, was lousy with rubber-edged trash-anthems like “How We Do”-in 2002 if you were a bi-ish art chick obsessed with Kelly Wearstler that was your unequivocal jam. At some point, however, the Milwaukee/LA/Berlin gearhead decided electroclash is NOT fashion and repudiated slutty sleazegum for a more snub-nosed reality: Mt. Sims. Ostensibly, the party’s over.
Happily Ever After is all about the darker tones in dance music. Unfortunately it might send you screaming for your T. Raumschmiere records, if post-goth as distilled by Interpol and Christian Soriano hasn’t done that already. Its full-length predecessor, Wild Light, moved Sims in a more unmitigatedly bleak direction: Roger J played bass on it, for Christ’s sake. On Happily Ever After, meanwhile, Sims may have found a 3-piece functionality (Randy Twigg and Andre Lang handle bass and drums, respectively) but results are middling. To cite the single “Grave”: “what have we gotten ourselves into?” No more drum machines, no more dirty strings, just lots of information about death and the bizarro. “Every moment/ might be the moment/ to meet the man in black/ and kiss it all away,” Sims bellows on “Dig It In.” On the vitriolic “The Bitten Bite Back,” “your eyes are smiling/ my neck is bleeding.” The end lyric is “it’s only a matter of time before…” oh you know the rest. By the way: disappointed by True Blood‘s lack of a soundtrack last fall I sorta made my own and that song almost made it.
“Grave,” a rolling pitch of sinister snares and melancholy omens, is nearly perfect for five exact minutes. Sustaining proper songcraft for that long is rare these days and the rest of the record’s relative fail illustrates it. The drumming on “What’s The Big Deal?” sounds like Brit from the Flight Of The Conchords credits. “Kove’s Revenge” involves a kind of weird transposition of the letters k and l, (“kosing it all in the darkest of hours?“). The title track opens with some rumbling weirdness and ends with a tiny exercise in gnarz, confirming this as, in fact, Sims’ German record. It also confirms that “it was dirty where I fell/ happily ever after.” Bleaky bleaky bleak! Sims loves you, but he’s chosen darkness.