gullbuy music review



Pleasure & Romance


International DeeJay Gigolo Records


Zonk CD cover XLover is a recent band formed by Bryan Black, who formerly worked with Prince before moving to the UK, and Nina Rai - a fashion designer turned lead vocalist, along with Olivier Grasset (who has worked with Bryan Black as Motor) and Scott Fairbrother (who has worked with Death in Vegas and Whitey). They have released a couple of singles on City Rockers, one of which called Trash Me appeared on the City Rockers Present Futurism 2 compilation while they recorded their debut album called Pleasure And Romance between 2002 and 2004 which has been released International Deejay Gigolo Records. The single So Blue also appeared on the International DeeJay Gigolos CD Eight compilation.

XLover combines the techno pop of New Order and Benny Benassi with the raunchier lyric and vocal style of Prince and Peaches. That's rather fitting actually because Bryan Black worked with Prince, and if you see a picture of lead vocalist Nina Rai, she looks like she would've been one of Prince's proteges.

The album works best when Nina Rai sings and not so well when Bryan Black sings. It also works well when XLover collaborate as they do on a handful of tracks. Apparently the tracks with Bryan Black singing were recorded prior to the band having a female vocalist, but these tracks are the least intriguing of the batch (which include Machine, Voodoo U, Sex Or Head, and Lady Lover - the latter two are duets with Nina Rai although you'd be hardpressed to hear Nina's vocals; Felix Da Housecat added some melodies on Lady Lover, so his fans might dig this track which is funkier than the rest of the album though I didn't think much of it in the long run).

Set opening Lovesucker is a great first track with its stuttered electronics and it's doubled up Nina vocals. Jon Klein (from Specimen, Souxsie and The Banshees and The Cure) plays guitar on it as well, adding some crunch. Sex Rebel follows it with a New Order styled guitarline by Scott Fairbrother which is tops - it's too bad there's not more of that kind of sound on this disc.

Faking It ups the guitars in an Electronicat kind of way and works, while Strip Down does the same sound but doesn't work as well. In Love has a club edge to it which is cool - I bet this track would make for some fine remixes.

The collaborations all work fine and is some of the best material here - like So Blue (which has a string arrangement by Steve Hitchcock, who also arranged strings for the film score to Moulin Rouge), and an austere electronic goodness mixed with Nina Rai's disembodied vocals and the sweet string arrangement.

Darling Nikki is a Prince cover (originally from Purple Rain) which feature vocals by Princess Superstar, and it's one of the best tracks here - along with the uncredited Nirvana cover that ends the disc. Aneurysm adds an industrial punk crunch that is missing from most of the disc and is a fine way to wrap things up.

---Patrick, August 9, 2005