Death In Vegas is one of those groups who make music that is consistently interesting, yet doesn't really step outside any preconceived notions that you may have about them and slaps you upside the head. On their opening disc of Dead Elvis, they rocked my town with "Dirt," but in many other places the album was taken up with filler. On their second release, The Contino Sessions, they again had tracks that did a lot for me, but also had ones that simply had me lolling off or hitting the skip button on my CD player.
Unfortunately, Scorpio Rising is no different, and it seems that their collaboration with Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream has really rubbed off on them, because this album feels like a twin cousin to that groups recent Evil Heat in more ways than one. After opening with a scorching track full of guitars and drums on "Leather," the disc twirls into the uptempo lullaby of "Girls," mixing in some wordless ethereal vocals by Susan Lillane to nice effect while slowly tightening the screws before letting loose. "Hands Around My Throat" dips a toe into the electro fountain with some off-kilter electronics and snotty vocals by Nicola Kaperus.
The group continues their transformation into more of a full-band sound with even more collaborations with big name singers and fuller instrumentation. Liam Gallagher adds his drawl to the album-titled track of "Scorpio Rising" (which mimics a gritty Oasis track quite well) while Hope Sandoval turns up on both the acoustic-tinged "Killing Smile" and the orchestral ambience of the album closer "Help Yourself." Elsewhere, Paul Weller and Dot Allison add their pipes to tracks, and while everything on the release is technically put together well and even sometimes compelling (the two album-opening tracks work about the best), most of the time things feel like they've been written specifically for the person who's singing them. The only other instrumental on the disc is a short, swirling haze of electronics that feels completely out-of-place next to the star-packed tracks on the rest of the release (interestingly enough, it's also the only track in which the duo of Death In Vegas completely perform themselves). At the rate they're going, the next disc will feature vocal appearances by Kylie Minogue and Justin Timberlake (or at least Bono), but maybe that's what they're hoping for as well.