1980 – CBS
Post-Punk/ New Wave/ Alternative
Following their interesting post-punk debut Adam and his band The Ants have come back in full swing with a new sound influenced by everything from their earlier punk work to African Burrundi beats, and really I have to say that it all works splendidly. Kicking off with the wonderfully energetic, high-camp hits of Dog Eat Dog and Antmusic this album quickly solidifies its distinct sound and atmosphere of self-aware nonsense. It’s just everything Dirk Wears White Sox promised with a hugely fun pop twist.
The guitar lines are still full of raw, unpolished squeals, but at least this time they’re on beat and the dual drum kits work incredibly well to provide a steady yet wild backbeat that holds the whole thing together. Ant’s vocals too are just as ridiculous and camp (complete with faux yodels) as the early days, but by this time he seems to have discovered a little thing we in the industry like the call ‘melody’. This isn’t to say, however, that Kings Of The Wild Frontier is merely a slightly better rehashing of Dirk Wears White Sox. In fact, this album actually eschews many of the artistic pretensions and conventions of that earlier record in favour of a playful spread of Hollywood western riffs, joking disco beats, and legitimately melancholy post-punk riffs. The band knows what they’re doing here and they’re not afraid to have a little bit of fun with it.
I mean, sliding the disturbing suicide dirge Ants Invasion in just behind the camp costume-rock of Los Rancheros is a brilliantly inspired ‘fuck-you’ to any notions of coherency and family friendliness in a record. There’s just so much swagger and bravado in these flippant switches in mood that it’s hard not to find a lot to enjoy in all these ironic paradoxes of pop versus art rock. And one also has to ask themselves how those immortals lines (“ant music for sex people/ sex music for ant people) in Don’t Be Square (Be There) ever managed to make it outside of the underground scene let alone into the number one slot on the British charts. Absolute punk genius.
What’s even more enjoyable than the intellectuality of this record, however, is the sheer catchiness of each and every beat and hook. You might feel stupid for doing it, but after listening to this record I can guarantee you that you will be singing Antmusic and The Magnificent Five (and even to some extent the chanting chorus of The Human Beings) quietly under your breath for the rest of your day. Not to mention the fabulous guitar solos thrown in at precisely the right junctions by Marco Pirroni and all of the panting back up yodels that just invite the listener to join right on in and sound like a moron. But seriously, moronic sing-alongs aside the music on this record is really such fun and so incredibly catchy that it’s hard to criticize.
So, in conclusion I have to say that Kings Of The Wild Frontier really is one of the most original and interesting albums I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. It’s just so intelligent while at the same time being so incredibly daft; just so frivolous and well considered; so inoffensive and so amazingly sexually dark. And it is for this uniqueness of sound and these paradoxes of concept that I have to put it up there in the list of best records that have ever been produced.
It really is most definitely a must have.
And here is a nice little clip of Mr. Ant and the band performing the hit Antmusic on Top of The Pops.
- Adam Ant at Keswick Theatre shows he’s still a Goody Two Shoes (blogs.mcall.com)
- Adam Ant: Still Standing and Delivering (Live in Pittsburgh at Stage AE) (pittsburghmusicmagazine.com)
- The Indelible, Flamboyant New Wave of Adam Ant (lineout.thestranger.com)
- Thoughts of a Middle Aged Woman on Seeing Adam Ant in Concert (lauraleeauthor.wordpress.com)
- After time away, Adam Ant finds new wild frontier (triblive.com)
- MUSIC REVIEW | Adam Ant still has it at Mill City Nights (tcdailyplanet.net)
- Adam Ant at Mill City Nights, Minneapolis (09/01/13) (weheartmusic.typepad.com)
- Adam Ant interview (colinleach.wordpress.com)