By Rich Lopez Staff Writer

Androgynous band The Cliks go strong and sexy with their second release

The Cliks
"Dirty King"
Tommy Boy Records

The sophomore slump sucks. A worthy follow-up album to a great debut is probably the worst type of pressure for a band new to the biz and for the fans; it’s akin to impotence.

At the same time, a good band knows how to maximize their strengths and skate by on at least a decent release. The Cliks avoided such by working out the kinks from their impressive but flawed debut "Snakehouse" back in 2007 and kick ass with their newest release, "Dirty King."

CLIK IT UP: Trans vocalist Lucas Silveira (center) turns the music world upside down with bandmates Jen Benton on bass, left, and drummer Morgan Doctor on the Cliks’ newest album, ‘Dirty King.’

That is not to say "King" is perfect, but it comes pretty close.
The Cliks are wholeheartedly rockers, but the bluesy opener "Haunted" is a surprising introduction to the album. Instead of relying on a balls-out opener, they practically welcome back listeners with FTM singers Lucas Silveira’s sexy drawl of a voice. He takes every syllable and lets them ooze out into a dizzying effect of sensuality.

But the title track (and second song) drops the ball. It feels as if "Haunted" is just a prologue and "Dirty King" is the real opener — it whiplashes the listener into second gear. But that’s not the problem here. It would be fine had it been a better song but it is too much a knockoff from The Panic Channel. (That’s like saying Skechers’ newest line of footwear is derivative of Payless Shoes.) Silveira relies too much on a sexy-rocker voice to convince he wants to be my dirty king. It’s a laughable bump in the road of this album, as is "We Are the Wolverines," a song whose message eludes me.

Minus those two songs, the rest of the album is some of the best ear candy so far this year. The Cliks seemed to have taken their time with these revealing and mature numbers. Complex layers of guitar riffs and keyboard cameos create a sound that is bigger than the mere trio.

At times, the album comes off a bit over polished but the quality of songs here surpasses any critique of overproduction. "Not Your Boy" is a pseudo-ballad that veers to the poppier side of mid-’90s Lilith Fair songs, but Silveira delivers such an emotion-packed song of lingering rue that it begins to ache your own soul. "Henry" and "Career Suicide" are the rockers that "Dirty King" and "Wolverines" should have been and flavor the album with enough up-tempo to balance out the intentionally slower delivery of the rest of the album.

The trick when listening to The Cliks is hearing a clearly feminine voice with a male perspective. Silveira’s pipes are strong and able but he offers an interesting, even refreshing musical juxtaposition. For the uninitiated, it takes some getting used to but the strength behind these music and lyrics transcends gender and successfully reaches into pure emotion.
Grade: B+


June has been one mentally exhausting month. The last few weeks ran the gamut, with Pride celebrations for Stonewall’s 40th anniversary, then the Million Gay March which lifted us up as a community … only to be brought down by the Rainbow Lounge fiasco in Fort Worth.

To get your mind off matters, here’s an old-fashioned summertime mixtape ("mix CD" just doesn’t have that nostalgic ring to it). Bust out your blank media and jump on iTunes for these ditties (in this order) to get you into the groove.

"Miss Independent" by Kelly Clarkson: What? Too obvious? It’s Independence Day.
"Cruel Summer" by Bananarama: This accidental anthem to Texas heat can never miss.

"Summerfling" by K.D. Lang, pictured: She’s one of our faves and one of our own and this happy tune is like aural lemonade.

"Heat Wave" by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas: These ladies cannot do you wrong.

"American Idiot" by Green Day: It’s a rocker but also a nifty dance number. Don’t worry; no one’s calling you an idiot.

"One More Time" by Daft Punk: Seriously, is there a better-crafted pure dance song?

"Flawless" by George Michael: And while we’re dancing …

"Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough" by Michael Jackson: Some disco never hurts the summer and hey, it’s MJ. You knew he’d make this mixtape.

"Pride (In the Name of Love)" by U2: Eerily apropos all of the sudden and classic in all the right ways.

"Warm Summer’s Evening" by Belleville Outfit: This Austin band will take you back to lazy rockabilly days on the front porch.

All you have to do now is press play and let the summer officially begin.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 3, 2009.

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