The first Electric Six album, 2003's Fire, burned on the heels of the magnificent left-field single "Danger! High Voltage," which featured Jack White on vocals and some of the funniest lyrics ("Fire in the disco! Fire in the Taco Bell!") to hit indie-rock since, well, ever; indie-rock is rarely funny. Nearly every other song on Fire matched it, too, with "Gay Bar," "I Invented The Night," and "Dance Commander" frolicking carefree through cock-rock, teasing and laughing the whole way.
The trouble with such a rousing, pleasing introduction is that a second meeting rarely proves as fun: Electric Six—essentially singer and chief songwriter Dick Valentine, who's gone through lots of backing players—signed to a big label and delivered Señor Smoke ages ago, but it didn't see the light of day in America until early 2006, and not on the big label that signed (and subsequently dropped) the Detroit band. Worse yet, the disc sounds at first listen like a less-inspired run at the same territory.
But here's the good news: Smoke only feels like a fizzle when side-by-side with the almost-unassailable Fire. Two listens could inspire singalongs (to "Bite Me," "Dance-A-Thon 2005," and at least three others) and plenty of head-banging giggles: Valentine still tweaks rock's time-tested clichés into over-the-top rawk fun, knowing that it can't be done without tongue in cheek, at least not in this decade. It isn't the wall-to-wall bull's-eye of Fire, but it still has hits: "Rock And Roll Evacuation" criticizes a square administration ("Mr. President, I don't like you / You don't know how to rock!"), "Be My Dark Angel" sorta tackles love ("Be my Capri-Sun!"), and even the flat-out non-song "(Pleasing Interlude II)" scores. Unlike The Darkness, which fell hard and fast recently by delivering the same punchline—and laughing at it—twice, Electric Six looks like it has some distance left to run.