Ellen Cook, quite simply, is a woman born during the wrong time: Bang Bang Bang should have been the punk album of the Big Band era.
Ellen The Felon And The Mattronome’s debut album defies any specific genre in the best way possible. Starting strong with “Crazy Psycho” and “Where the Heart Is,” the album really hits its stride by third track “Chaos,” where the band sounds like they could’ve backed Miles Davis during the Birth of the Cool sessions. Drummer Matthew Reyland and saxophonist Dave Farver are on fire, Cook’s lyrics flow like Beat poetry, and the music evokes images of Gaslight Square in the ‘60s on a long-gone Friday night.
Songs like “Cross Marketing” and “Party Girl” showcase Cook’s masterful arrangements. From the start, “Cross Marketing” feels like the love child of Frank Zappa and Amanda Palmer, and “Party Girl”’s tender shuffling introduction gives way to a delicious melody that sets up a chorus part riot grrrl and part cabaret.
Bang Bang Bang sounds fresh and exciting, like a band giving everything it has while having the most fun possible. From the poppiness of “Crazy Psycho” to the cha-cha melody of “Oh Timothy” or the weirdness of closing track “Temple,” glimpses of the band’s source material flash by. Cook’s voice is in top form from start to finish, Reyland and violinist Abbie Steiling are the perfect complement to Cook’s piano, and this might just be the classiest, campiest and most vulgar album of 2013. Rev. Daniel W. Wright