Peeping Tom

The crazed mind behind Fantômas, Mr. Bungle and other sonic mindfucks has finally released his first self-described "pop" record. It's the musical equivalent of Godard filming a summer blockbuster or Italo Calvino writing a grocery-store romance novel, but the aforementioned director and author never delivered what Mike Patton has on Peeping Tom. Judging by these songs, maybe they should have. Though he tries his hardest to scare off listeners with disjointed opener "Five Seconds," whose West Coast hip-hop swagger is repeatedly interrupted with an industrial, cut-and-paste scream assault, the contrast is as catchy as it is maddening. Patton's balance between slick breakbeats and grinding, guitar-and-synth rock could've turned out like a bad version of the Spawn soundtrack, but his knack for Faith No More-style hooks gives the album both the accessibility and sharp, bloody teeth that make this an important record, particularly on "Mojo," an FNM-style song begging to reign on mainstream radio. Guest appearances fit seamlessly into the insanity (human beatbox Rahzel, Brazilian songstress Bebel Gilberto, super-rapper Kool Keith, turntable mastermind Kid Koala); even hometown hero Norah Jones makes herself known on the sultry "Sucker" without stealing the show. Patton's plenty aware that this isn't normal territory; after "Mojo," he jokingly whispers, "Oops, I did it again." But strangely, his years of noise-rock insanity have made him some kind of pop expert; here's to hoping he'll do this again and again.


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