The maturing, polyglot sound of America’s urban future.
Pairing a Cambodian pop star—émigré Ch’hom Nimol—and L.A. musicians infatuated with Southeast Asian rock, Dengue Fever was seemingly tailored for seekers of new sounds. But with Venus On Earth, the group’s third outing finds them (thankfully)?moving beyond novelty. For the ?rst time boasting no obscure Cambodian pop covers, and with three songs in English, the record works best when Nimol and guitarist/vocalist Zac Holtzman trade vocals to create compelling narratives. “Tiger Phone Card” relates the travails of a New York/Phnom Penh long-distance relationship, while in “Sober Driver,” a male narrator bemoans being used for post-party transportation. The band’s Khmer tunes remain compelling when Asian modalities and Nimol’s unique vocals are married to the Far?sa organ and reverb-guitar of ’60s psychedelic rock, but not so much when they sound like generic Nuggets fare.