"It's a Halloween party in a jewel-box," Voltaire comments about Ooky Spooky, his most hilariously irreverent CD to date. Years in the making, Voltaire's 5th album contains a duet with The Dresden Dolls' Amanda Palmer, a track from a Cartoon Network movie plus his crowd-pleasing songs about zombies, devils and dancing skeletons. In fact necrophilia, cannibalism, prostitution, buggery, blasphemy, sacrilege, going to hell, bombing New Jersey and anal rape with a lightsaber are just a few of the charming topics covered on Ooky Spooky.
Back are the violins and cellos but new to the Voltaire sound is a horn section that brings to mind images of a mariachi skeleton band. But there is no doom and gloom here, mind you. The album bounces along with a mixture of klezmer, swing and ska that brings to mind such spooky-fun classics as Oingo Boingo's "Dead Man's Party" or "Hell" by the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Voltaire's love for Cab Calloway is evident in the song "Cannibal Buffet" (which seems straight from a Betty Boop cartoon) and more so in "Land of the Dead" which Voltaire wrote for the opening credit sequence of the Cartoon Network movie "Billy and Mandy's Big Boogie Adventure."
As serious as it gets on Ooky Spooky is "Stuck With You," a duet with The Dresden Dolls' Amanda Palmer. It's about a bickering married couple, but even on this one kittens are drowned, Korean bayonets are employed and skeletons sing to each other from side-by-side coffins. "I got all of the serious songs out of the way on Then And Again," comments Voltaire, "specifically so that Ooky Spooky could be a non-stop party of fun songs about the undead and hell and devils and skeletons and all of the other fun stuff that's so close to my heart."
A review from Liar Society:
Having gotten all of the seriousness out of his system on Then and Again, Voltaire returns with an album that is practically filthy with tongue-in-rotten-cheek gallows humor. Although three of Ooky Spooky's eleven tracks feature the word "dead" in their titles, you couldn't possibly mistake this for a maudlin mope-fest; the jumping rhythms of the mariachi-tinged "Day of the Dead" and the Jamaican flavor of "Reggae Mortis" give the record the feel a transnational danse macabre that celebrates all that goes bump in the night.
Of course, it isn't all ghosts and ghouls. "Cantina," Voltaire's send up of every Star Wars fan's favorite watering hole, bends much beloved characters in the most bawdy of ways, while "Bomb New Jersey" gives several cogent reasons for the annihilation of the Garden State. "Hell in a Handbasket" returns to the heretical roots of Voltaire's "God Thinks," giving hypocritical religion a hymn that's hard to forget. (See also: "Dead.") And Voltaire's duet with The Dresden Doll's Amanda Palmer is to die for. Literally. Kittens are drowned, mothers are stabbed with bayonets, and yet somehow they manage a sweet sentiment out of all the blood and gore.
On Ooky Spooky Voltaire has kept the Old World gypsy style of his previous work mostly intact in the face of an ever expanding repertoire of musical styles. The addition of jazzy horns on several of the album's best songs adds another interesting layer that gives a definite party feel to the album as a whole. Ooky Spooky may just replace "The Monster Mash" and "Dead Man's Party" as your Samhain shindig soundtracks. You really can't go wrong with an album that references both sodomy and cannibalism. Rating: 4.5 out of 5. -Jack