Kill Rock Stars

Don’t be swayed by the slim solidus; more than just a name change separated Kleenex and LiLiPUT. Stern-voiced vocalist Regula Sing stepped out of the Zurich fem-punk outfit at the end of the ’70s, just as Kimberly-Clark entered the mix. It made sense to rechristen a band that was shifting from the grim apostrophe of “Madness” and “Nighttoad” (talk about a sexual metaphor—wow) to the ludic jerkiness of “Split,” whose lyrics are a salad of playground nonsense. It would have been apt, though, for Kleenex to have been renamed another, oh, half-dozen times. From 1978 to 1983, the span covered by this reissue of the band’s complete collected works, nine people (not counting guests) passed through lineups that ranged from a trio to a quintet. Although guitarist-vocalist Marlene Marder and bassist-vocalist Klaudia Schiff never progressed all that much in the chops department, they had an astonishing range, and their far-flung forays rarely fell flat. Stunt instrumentation abounds: Even when the roster reads like a power trio, LiLiPUT delivers an oompah waltz for accordion and squeak toy. And when Astrid Spirit is credited with violin on “Birdy,” her rosinous scratching recalls the pig-rut pranking of mischievous children. Slide whistle rears its plunger on “Igel,” and we receive a two-minute introduction to the bastard spawn of the Slits and the Hoosier Hot Shots. It’s often forgotten that a band that so frequently approached rebelliousness with a smirk rather than a sneer, turning politics to play, could also craft obsessive, absurdist sound-traps such as “Outburst” and “Ichor,” but all its snares make LiLiPUT a tough land to leave. —Glenn Dixon