Loving Life

If Alvarez has dropped the arch gothic melodrama of Forget the Name, his new work is still plenty dark. On Rescue, a new EP recorded prior to the reformation of Sixo, Alvarez continues his exploration of bedroom politics and psychological warfare, staring cynically at the throbbing heart of love, longing, and lust and wondering why things work the way they do.

Although linked thematically to the morose concepts found on Sixo, Rescue -- recorded with Derek Murphy and bassist Matt Sabatella -- is a post card from love's frontlines, scribbled with ruminations on the struggle to sustain relationships through adulthood. On "Caroline," a desperate plea to a vexing lover set to a pulsating acoustic guitar figure, Alvarez sings, "Everyone lies/Please believe me/Dead or alive/You will need me." "Cakes and Kisses" follows the exploits of Love and Misery, a pair "strong enough to beat up Superman" but who choose instead to batter each other black and blue. "This Is the Time," arguably the showpiece of the six-song set, takes a look at the commanding presence of maturity and the pointlessness of squandering time and potential, using a taut, simple riff to underscore lines like "This life is over and another one is just coming around." Alvarez's pessimism imbues both "Never Good, Always Bad" (as in, "Love is ...") and "Shit," in which he confesses "I've got a gun to my head/Hoping you'll just come and pull the trigger." He serves up that last word almost with a resigned laugh, the way you might offer a punch line to a joke everyone already knows.

"I have a very harsh line on what life is and it's not necessarily very pretty. But I like it," Alvarez says of his hard-boiled songwriting slant, philosophizing on the source of his ideas. "My songs are mostly about one's personal doubt and vulnerability. I enjoy life for what it is, but the hard part of it is realizing that maybe we're not meant to be happy -- maybe happiness shouldn't be such a goal, maybe it isn't all it's cracked up to be. If I was happy for more than a week I would probably get bored. It's a real world we live in, with real death and real pain, and that's what makes it so good and makes happiness so valued. I like that struggle between the real world and happiness. Even if it's meaningless, I think it's good. It makes life interesting and gives me something to wake up for every day."

Sixo performs Sunday, November 3, at Rose's Bar & Music Lounge, 754 Washington Ave, Miami Beach; 532-0228. Showtime is midnight. Admission is free. The band's CD release party is November 9 at Cheers, 2490 SW 17th Ave, 857-0041.

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