There’s more than just a shot of Little Shop of Rocky Horrors hammed-up glammed-up superfluous sleaze to Dalton Deschain & the Traveling Show. It’s verging on operatic, it teeters on ridiculous, it treats itself all-knowingly and preaches from the alter of a self aware implosion. If Cruella De Vil, The Darkness and Queen made an alternate soundtrack to Killer Clowns from Outer Space, we might end up somewhere nearby.
It’s glorious, sumptuous, mesmerising, miserable, I love it and I hate it at once. I even hate loving it’s premise. ‘Casey‘s the last in a three EP trilogy that spins out the story of a circus ringleader, possessed by a demon sometime in the 1940s. There’s freaks, femme fatales, nuclear researchers… the grandeur, the splendour. The cheek!
Sonically talking there’s pop punk and glam, there’s huge swathes of pomp against orchestral swells, there’s wit not just in words but in music. It’s overblown, bloated and beautiful, with a Bat Out Of Hell next of kin. Sure there’s an embellished sentimentality but that’s the theatrics at play. From the moment we open with Rabid, we’re played with and toyed with and welcomed to invest ourselves in the richness of finely etched ludicrous worlds. There’s fear, disenchantment and fictitious love in the hard stabs and chugs that texture the track. Choruses flow with a paring of vocals that soar, slide and croon like a romantic comedy, and I’m singing along to a Vampires Live hook about a rabid dog joining the circus. Throw in some one liners about dogs barking orders and that high-top sized ego’s in neon – swollen and fully deserved.
‘Interstitial (Tethered)‘ takes us waltzing through warped and cracked Wurlitzer loops that repaint some of Rabid’s best show tunes. Lines that were laid out by vocals and strings come our blurred and resettled and calmed. It’s a smooth instrumental that weaves a mirage then descends into woozy gothic-jazz cabaret as carnival dreams are smeared out. It’s as grand in intention, just as rich in the palette of steampunk blacks and reds and it’s a welcome reprieve to the hyper-glam glitz.
Once that reprieve floats on by we get darker. In ‘Man Thing’ there’s sly winks to dirtier bands, Muse and a taint of The Faint. We run slicker through sections of darkness and mess and I warm to the torn sounds and slush. With less hyperbole and bombast than ‘Rabid’, there’s more to latch on to and more to catch hold of, there’s more depth to the fanciful landscapes. From a fresh gritted vocal there’s a barrage of words that run from B-movie snapshots and back. And I wonder if, in the closing track of the trilogy, a little more self’s been let in… Disguised in the guise of a crazed atomic doctor, the inside and outside collide; “Ive been called a / lazy hypochondriac /who can’t get a real job /an over educated and potential wasting arts snob”… Of course, that might be pure conjecture. But I’m glad to catch snags of a tangible thing wrapped up in this fantastic land.
So the last act has come to a close. I’ve walked into the third and last part of the show and I’ve caught the last songs before curtains come down. Did I like what caught? I still have no idea. But it’s blissfully pompous and wonderfully stitched, the theatrics and tactics are flawless. With so many richly worked out quirks and charms, how could I not write this up?
As always highlights of these tracks and other featured artists are right here on Rats On Run Radio.