by Sheril Stanford
History has shown us that once a genre of music (say, "alternative"), captures the collective imagination and becomes mainstream, it soon becomes redundant and tedious (a la Bush, 311, etc.). So then novelty acts (let's call them, oh, The Presidents of the United States of America) step in to relieve the boredom induced by the plethora of derivative bands. The novel-tease are frequently novel, but rarely very good. Eventually, the music world gets disgusted, both with the repetition of the derivative acts and the relentless foolishness of the novelty acts. THAT is when something new, different, and good comes along. There's so much crap out there you should be on your knees in gratitude for Jane Jensen's Comic Book Whore.
If Tank Girl had a band, this would be it. Okay, sounds like one of those amusing novelty things, but this is serious- wickedness is often masked by a smile. Comic Book Whore is a futuristically contemporary masterpiece with a driving, industrial-oriented sound (some of the tunes are even dancable) overlaid with Jensen's seductive/ menacing/charming vocals. Jensen comes off as sassy, edgy, smart, funny, and maybe a little bit brutal. There's a conflicting sense of vulnerability and a take no prisoners stance at the same time. It's worse than that - it's take prisoners, seduce 'em, then make 'em squirm.
The most outstanding track is "More Than I Can," a tale of possessiveness, abuse, and revenge, with surreal processed vocals delivered in a menacing monotone over a harsh programmed drum beat. "You want the light inside my body, makes you nervous, makes you naughty, you want the truth inside the light, you want the hurt," and that, my man, is just more than she can give. Brrr... It's cold in here. On a lighter note is "Luv Song" which sort of comes off like a one-sided phone call about the ideal boyfriend. "He's gotta act like a maniac and never get hurt... He's not co-dependent or anything like that, not fertilizer bomb material...". The flirty, loopy delivery sounds just like it feels in those first dazzling days of love. The title of the disc comes from "Highway 90," another gem; "Dreaming 'bout a day at a comic book store, I didn't wanna be a groupie, but I guess I am a comic book whore... I wanna be Donna Summer but I bet she wouldn't wanna be me...".
Jensen is joined by guitarist John Caruthers (formerly of Siouxsie and the Banshees), Craig Kafton (producer for the Hotheads) on bass and programming, and drummer Duard. Take a ride down highway 90 with Jensen - you owe it to yourself.