Teenage and Torture: Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers, By: Alex Cacioppo
This might be the first record that made me rush to the dictionary — no, Wikipedia — to look up a word. It’s track 8, “Erotolepsy,” whose opening strains almost evoke an old Irish jig. “Find me, find me, fuh-find me,” Shilpa wails, while piano and drums rush up to accompany until a dizzying climax consumes it all. But what is erotolepsy?
Turns out that Thomas Hardy first used it in his 1895 novel Jude the Obscure. “After all,” said Jude, “it is not altogether an erotolepsy that is the matter with me, as at that first time.” Hardy added that “he went on adoring her, fearing to realize that it was human perversity.”
Happy hookers. Teenage angst. All of it begins to click, track by track. “Click on me, boy,” Shilpa sirens. “Click on meee.” The highs and lows of her chemical romance are spread around, cresting and riding low. In the really chaotic moments her voice is a warbling ball of distortion, frenetically moving through something like withdrawal symptoms of an incurable ailment. “Where’s my love?” The question is posed not as a hopeful question but a mournful one.
Sometimes it sounds like we’re listening to Joan Jett, demanding us to answer if we really love our freedom while one of the hookers shreds an axe with punkish vim. “Stick it to the woman” is subtly-titled track 4: amid discordant pulsing echoes we hear the words, “Hello, salesgirl, you’ve got something new for me?”
Signifying a psychosexual ferocity not seen since the reign of Louis XIV, Shilpa Ray is at her best with “Heaven In Stereo,” a taut rollicking ride with a great hook. “And it shaaakes my heart!” she screams. “Shake-shake-shake, shake!” Suddenly she calms, as if injected with a tranquilizer.