Romances – CMJ (Review)




It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Mike Patton’s idea of romance is a little different from the norm. Along with Norwegian composer John Kaada, he’s created this “seductive” album that is a decidedly more sinister kiss—think vampires in velvet capes as opposed to a candlelit dinner. Much of the credit goes to Kaada, who follows up his mind-bending samplicious 2003 debut masterpiece with an even more twisted take on hillbilly harmonicas, cartoon sound effects and sultry orchestration.


This is what happens when the boys who pulled on a girl’s pigtails to get her attention actually grow up, get smart and fall in love. Patton, ever the evil genius, reminds everyone that there’s a strong and talented voice behind the madness, and then, once you’re sold, proceeds to run around the room whispering gibberish in your ears and charming your pants off. Romances is certainly a difficult starting point for appreciating either artist, but it’s also the sound of two artists very much at home in a salacious affair. With Kaada willing to drop the funk every now and then, and Patton apparently going so far as to sing what sounds like the chorus to Simon And Garfunkel’s “The Boxer,” the album is hard to ignore and demands closer inspection with headphones. Doing so reveals Romances as a complicated labor of (and about) love.