World / Inferno Friendship Society, The Anarchy And The Ecstasy
A three-ring circus on a drama-club budget
Fifteen years and five albums into a career that's made them one of Brooklyn's most consistent cult acts, it's still not clear what, exactly, the World/Inferno Friendship Society are at the end of the day. Calling them a "punk rock cabaret" is a fine enough foundation, especially since the ever-evolving collective has in the past courted members of the Dresden Dolls (drummer Brian Viglione), the Hold Steady (accordion/piano/mustache player Franz Nicolay), and Dexys Midnight Runners (saxophonist Geoff Blythe). Perhaps a better comparison would be to call them a three-ring circus on a drama-club budget, with a sound that's spread across the blurred lines of ska, rockabilly and the kind of Off-Broadway musicals that have as much in common with Queen as they do the peacockier moments of My Chemical Romance's Black Parade LP.
Ringleader Jack Terricloth — a secular preacher man in every way — steals the show as he makes a case for the sainthood of a sci-fi icon ("Canonize Philip K. Dick, OK"), lashes out against consumerism ("I Am Sick Of People Being Sick Of My Shit"), and leads his merry/manic backing band through a call-to-arms anthem that's bound to become a fan favorite at World/Inferno's notorious live shows ("Lean Times For Heroes"). The seamless interplay between Terricloth and backup singer Sandra Malak even borrows a couple lines from the New Pornographers on "The Apple Was Ever," proving yet again that the band never found a rule they didn't want to run afoul of.