New Orleans duo Quintron and Miss Pussycat are best known for their outlandish stage antics, which routinely include a puppet show that opens up their act. Once you’ve seen it, it’s kind of hard to forget, the duo’s strange and hilarious characters playing out a violent drama from a giant diorama theater. Though that might seem like the kind of thing that has potential to completely overshadow the music, Quintron more than makes up for it with insanely catchy dance-pop jams built around thick and syrupy organ riffs and swampy grooves. Their music needs no puppet show to thrive and capture people’s attention, but then again, if given the choice, who wouldn’t want their live concert experience to include some felt character mischief?
The group’s latest album, Sucre du Sauvage, finds them taking another idiosyncratic approach with their music, having recorded all of it within the walls of the New Orleans Museum of Art, and not in a private room, mind you, but among the art and the patrons. The idea was not to be performing for the crowd, but rather, to record an album among them. As such, bits of found sound have made their way on to the songs, though not always in very obvious ways. And the album was later performed in a concert for a blindfolded audience, as depicted on the album’s cover.
This kind of unusual approach doesn’t interfere with the duo’s characteristically upbeat and giddy garage-dance, but there’s no doubt a sense of urgency that spills out from these 14 songs. It has the raw and raucous feel of a live album, which it kind of is, albeit without the requisite applause and howls. The vibrant immediacy of leadoff track “Ring the Alarm” is contagious, its first line “Life is a jubilee-oh!” perfectly capturing its joyous thrills. There’s a darker new wave groove to “Face Down In the Gutter” that recalls early B-52’s, albeit one spliced with sounds of trickling water and other field recordings. Highlight “All Night Right of Way” stands out in particular with its sinister-yet-soaring melody and fiery Hammond.
Bits and pieces of weird sounds float in and out on Sucre du Sauvage, from bird squawks to the occasional passer-by’s vocal contribution, and at one point a crowd can even be heard cheering on the infectious spectacle. It lends the album a little extra ambience and atmosphere, but Quintron and Miss Pussycat are still in the business of making raw, distorted organ pop, and it sounds as good as ever.
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Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.