splendid > reviews > 3/26/2002
Felix da Housecat
Felix da Housecat
Kittenz and thee Glitz
Emperor Norton

Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Madame Hollywood"

Buy me now
Editor's Note: Yes, we know this disc is ancient, but we only received it a few weeks ago. Sometimes the old "review everything we receive" rule results in slightly out-of-date reviews.

If you haven't heard Felix da Housecat yet, what the hell are you waiting for? Moronic porn-style title aside, Kittenz and thee Glitz is a hyperactive bacchanal of sexed-up, eighties style electro-pop -- an icy-cold, Euro-hip soundtrack for driving around in a limo full of coked-up supermodels. That sounds nice, doesn't it?

Felix isn't a Housecat-come-lately; he has released a handful of albums under a variety of monikers, and enjoyed some success as a remix artist. But it's Kittenz and thee Glitz, which features the sultry vocals of Miss Kittin and Melistar, that seems destined to make him a household name -- albeit only in households big enough to have their own dance floors. Exploiting the undeniable appeal of thick, cheesy, Depeche Mode-style synth pop loops, Felix delivers a high-octane tribute to swanky eighties high-life, oozing sex and style and celebrity skin.

All the essential elements are here. Melistar adds her dominatrix-style dispassionate mumble to the pulsating workout of "Happy Hour". "Glitz Rock" slides vocodered vocals into an Italian disco-porn loop. "Sequel2Sub" wields the electric piano and sampled strings of a classic house track, but sneaks in a few breakbeats for modern effect. "Silver Screen Shower Scene", like "Happy Hour", centers around a vocal mantra -- this time, it's a sultry sequence delivered by a sullen Miss Kittin. And then there's "Runaway Dreamer", which recalls the painfully trite, ostensibly "soulful" ballads heard in the half-cautionary, half soft-porn teenage hooker films that were so popular in the eighties.

Older listeners -- those who aren't ashamed to admit that yes, the disco era happened, and no, they didn't mind at the time that it did -- will take particular pleasure in hearing Felix's cover of "Magic Fly", Didier Marouani's twenty-five year-old space disco epic. Though it has been updated with slippery drum machine beats, "Magic Fly" remains, like Cerrone's "Supernature" and Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer's "I Feel Love", a compelling example of one of dance music's most interesting blind alleys, simultaneously futuristic and obsolete.

By rights, Kittenz and thee Glitz should fall flat -- but it doesn't. While Felix and his crew acknowledge the inherent silliness of their subject matter, their approach is neither savage or slovenly. The music here is never outright parody, and there's evidence that real work went into creating this record -- it isn't a lightweight effort designed to cash in on retro-trendiness. It's a difficult balance to maintain, but they do their best; no, the seventies-style James Bond/Blaxploitation poster art that decorates the CD booklet doesn't hold up to close scrutiny -- it's pretty hamfisted, once you know what to look for -- but the CD itself is a remarkably satisfying and accomplished effort, and its best songs will linger in your mind for days.



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