So yeah, as previously noted, Dengue Fever are the band mysteriously thrown together by these American fellows who developed an interest in the exciting pop music that existed in Cambodia before the Khmer Rouge took over and decided to kill everyone. They found some beautiful Cambodian American woman to front their band, and so a winning formula was born. It is striking, though, how fresh Dengue Fever sound, and how unlike some lamer covers band. A lot of this, of course, comes down to their decision to write their own tunes, ones which nod stylistically to the Khmer Pop sounds of yore while still being new and exciting and oddly surf influenced. That the DF singer has an amazing voice is of course no hindrance.
On this record, some of the tracks are sung in Khmer, but some are also sung in English, for maximum whitey appeal. Two of these are duets between the woman and the main American fellow, on which he reveals a weak yet surprisingly affecting voice. These tunes play to ideas of trans-Pacific relationships (with their slight undercurrent of exploitation mixed in with all the gooey wuv*) and are, for me, the highlights of the album. My particular favourite is 'Tiger Phone Card', with the song being a duet between two lovers singing down the phone from opposite ends of the world. It got a lot of play in Panda Mansions while Irene was off in Ethiopia.
I also like the tune that knocks off 'Hotel California', and indeed all the other songs. I gather they played at the recent Electric Picnic festival. I wonder how they went down with the young people; well enough, presumably, as they are coming back to play in the Sugar Club in November. I already have my reasonably priced ticket, maybe see you there?
* Or maybe I have been reading too much of Barbara Ehrenreich's Global Women, current contender for being the World's Most Depressing Book.