PUPPIES IN A SACK, MR. MORSE, POP DOORMAT, BEST FRIEND
The Dancing Cigarettes is a Bloomington, Indiana band that specializes in "mental theatre dance music." They recently made their Chicago debut at Tuts and the Space Place, and now they're keeping the tradition of native sons MX-80 alive with their first EP. A circus of voices, saxes and synthesizers are juggled among this pack of Cigarettes. Tracks like "Puppies in a Sack" and "Pop Doormat" show the seeds of a creative and humorous band. The latter evokes a merger of the Strawberry Alarm Clock and the B-52's.
[ MX-80 ]
The Dancing Cigarettes make snappy lectro-techno rock with human flexibility. Outstanding are the Ubu-esque "Puppies" and the dazzling, lovely "Pop Doormat."
[ Ubu ]
by Colonel Hook
NightRock May 1982
Remember those chorus lines of cigarettes romping into our hearts across TV screens every day during the sixties? Well, this pack of human Dancing Cigarettes Hoosier neodadaists from Bloomington, Indiana come near on their first record to achieving the intense modern strangeness and cosmic revelry of their animated counterparts, and The Dancing Cigarettes carry it off with dark, ironic charm.
On "Puppies in a Sack," the sinister piping of a cheesy organ plays atop Timothy Noe's honking, Neanderthal saxophone to urge onward a plaint that equates cruelty to dogs with gross outbreaks of cultural paranoia. "How many of these problems do you have, huh?" shouts lead vocalist Michael Gitlin, desperately.
Don Trubey's drumming on
"Puppies" segues into "Mr. Morse," a long-overdue, rockin' homage to the inventor of the master code. "What do I have to do to get through to you?" asks Gitlin. He is answered by epileptic saxophones and Emily Bonus' telegraphic bass, all sounding as if Eno's Blank Frank were running amok in a Western Union station.
"Pop Doormat" is destined to have a good beat and be easy to dance to once Dick Clark is inevitably cloned and starts broadcasting from Pluto. Then comes "Best Friend," a song with loping rhythms and ringing guitars about a man who "doesn't want a lover / now he wants a babysitter."
Though the Cigarettes would do well to pare down the wilder fringes of their songs into more cogent bursts of mania (lessons learned from two minimalism classics: Wire's Pink Flag and The Cure's Seventeen Seconds), this record shows that they're heading for adventures your average local band would never experience.
[ Eno ]
[ Wire ]