Kid Commando

With Johan Lagerlof's clipped vocals soaring against angular guitars and rolling snares gunning it from all quarters, Kid Commando posits a manic conflict of an album inside the ashen, desolate territory of postpunk. The music on Holy Kid Commando, this Swedish outfit's debut LP, conjures the raw force of an optimistic and tranquilized Drive Like Jehu. And yet heavier notions of despair, recklessness, and a desperate romanticism course through it like bloodstains on a fine carpet. It's a magnetizing half-hour of friction that becomes more accessible and alluring after every nine-track loop, the tracks forging ahead like a child's arm outside a car window. As Lagerlof laughingly scoffs on "Black Beauty," "I still stand up." He's on the verge of tipping over from determination and exhaustion, and each word hits like an inhaler.

Such belabored rock efforts are usually overbearing and tedious, but with little hype stateside and a seemingly infinite number of lad mag bands succeeding with their boxed-in sounds and images, Kid Commando's bizarre method is kamikaze for all the right reasons.