The Dead Science

Here’s where I admit a colossal oversight in my year-end faves. I stand by my original choices, hastily assembled as they may have been (deadlines are dastardly things). But the omission of one particular record has caused me to reconsider whether a cursory glance at the “recently played” tab on my iTunes is sufficient for proper list-making.

So I’ll use the Bag to tell you about my favorite album of the year, Villainaire, by Seattle’s The Dead Science. What would it sound like if Xiu Xiu, Antony & the Johnsons, Shudder to Think and Tim Curry killed and skinned the members of Mars Volta, donned their bloody hides and set about making music inspired by superhero comics and the Wu Tang Clan? Um, clearly this.

The Dead Science has avant-rock chops to burn, but it refrains from Ipecac-style showboating in favor of a gracious approach that vacillates between ornate and intense. Singer Sam Mickens comes off like an undead Judy Garland; his bandmates are arch enablers for his inscrutable warbling.

Like a demonic doily or a fire-damaged bridal gown, Villainaire is elegant yet off-putting. Which is why I’ve been turning to it in those fretful hours between midnight and morning. And probably why I forgot all about it in the lucid light of day. The Dead Science isn’t playing D.C. anytime soon; have any of you Bag readers caught the live show?