In a month chock-full of killer live concerts, it’s Dengue Fever’s return trip to SOhO that’s landed at the top of my must-see queue. Since its last S.B. showing at the start of 2010, the band has traveled around the world and back and (finally) put the finishing touches on its long-awaited follow-up to 2008’s Venus On Earth. For Cannibal Courtship (out now on Fantasy Records), the American-made, Cambodian-inspired six-piece holds tight to everything that indebted us to the group from the start (namely groovy, surf-inspired guitar lines, ‘60s- and ‘70s-era harmonies, and a whole lot of worldly percussion), but with an added twist or two.
For the unacquainted, Dengue Fever busted onto the scene a few years back, toting a grab bag of musical touchstones (from post-Pol Pot Cambodian rock to the grinding riffs of Zeppelin and Hendrix) and a star of a lead singer in pintsized powerhouse Chhom Nimol. Drawing heavily from the musical history of Nimol’s native Cambodia, the group formed around the idea of paying homage to the Cambodian musicians (themselves influenced by classic American rock) chopped down by the Pol Pot regime. The result of this obscure throwback project is something that’s both approachable and unarguably unique, as evidenced on record and in concert.
For Courtship, though, Nimol steps outside of her Khmer comfort zone, opening her arms to the English language with a much more solid grasp than on past efforts. And while the move may seem odd at first, it ultimately exposes Nimol as the deft lyricist that we long assumed her to be. Musically, Cannibal Courtship mimics its carnal, lust-inspired title; the bass is driving and ever present, the horns are sultry one moment, screeching the next, and the drum work subtly pushes each song to its climax. In short, it’s a solid progression for a still-burgeoning band and an open invitation for new fans to buy a ticket. Speaking from experience, it’s a mighty worthy investment.
Dengue Fever plays SOhO (1221 State St.) on Thursday, April 28, at 9 p.m. Call 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com for tickets.