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You can accuse the St. Louis duo Femme Fatality of being retro or campy, but you can't deny that they have an unambiguous philosophy: "Dance or Die." It might be a bit extreme, but these dapper, original synthers - who answer to the names Octavia Leito and Monanani Palermo - take their electro-pop seriously. Even their vaguely European-sounding monikers suggest an endearing attempt at exotica from residents of a midwestern river city whose idea of exotic is a brewery tour.

Femme Fatality differs from many of its electro-revival compatriots in that it gleefully plunges into the darkest aspects of '80s underground music. While the duo's beats occasionally suggest the influence of early Depeche Mode, Thompson Twins, or Human League, its vocals are howls into the void, insanely affected, guttural echoes of Ian Curtis and Nick Cave.

Femme Fatality
Girls Rise With Heat

Sat, Aug 20

1902 McCullough

Backed by video monitors that celebrate all manner of sexual and chemical deviance, Femme Fatality provides a matching soundtrack, with songs such as "Dirty Life" (they're in favor of it) and "Scenester Trash Love Job Pt. 1" (ditto). The group's February visit to SA was a riotous affair with Leito and Palermo working the crowd like demented dance-club showmen. With FF's confidence peaking on the strength of national college-radio play, the return engagement promises to be even more unhinged.

- Gilbert Garcia

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