“Mecto Amore,” one of the first songs on Steam Powered Giraffe’s new album “MK III,” represents everything that the band is: Wonderfully creepy with the opening narration by Rabbit, catchy in the beats and lyrics, filled with delightful harmonies as The Spine and Hatchworth join Rabbit, and a little surprisingly sweet as the chorus hits and the ‘bots sing about love. The title of the song, “Mecto Amore,” allegedly means “machine love”: a fact which I, a monolingual English speaker with only Google Translate at my service, can neither confirm nor deny. Presuming it’s a correct translation, it’s fitting: the members of the band, after all, are all automatons.
Of course, the members of the San Diego-based band are all actually humans. But with their makeup and pantomime, it can get hard to tell when they’re on stage. SPG, described as a performance troupe more often than a band, has set up an intricate backstory for their robot characters; though when they get on stage, all you really need to know is “they’re robots, just accept it, it’s actually pretty neat.”
Their first track “Curtain Raiser,” features their sound engineer–pardon me, S.O.U.N.D. Engineer-Steve Negrete, having to authorize the album to play… after expressing surprise that anybody is actually trying to play the album at all. It leads into “Steam Powered Giraffe,” the first track named directly after the band.
Some other notable tracks:
“A Way into Your Heart” stuck out to me first, because their YouTube video of the song starts by introducing it as a “love letter to the fans.” With that in mind, lyrics like “Lately your love of life has been fading/And it hurts to see you that way/We’ll try to get you back up on your feet/Just tap your toes to the beat” hit me especially hard.
“I’ll Rust with You” is a sweet song that calls to mind the swinging toe-tappers of the 1950s. Well, sweet until you listen closely to the lyrics and realize that it’s one of the robots singing about their last and presumably long-dead love from era bygone.
“Wired Wrong” was originally written and released by David Michael Bennett, who portrays The Spine in the band. Many people, myself included, latch onto it as a ballad for everyone who’s trans*, queer, mentally ill or all of the above. In short, everyone who’s ever looked at their brain and thought that they had to be wired wrong.
The album finishes with “Turn Back the Clock,” a slow and melodic ballad about a young girl Rabbit used to know (who then grew old and died) that features him actually appearing to break down in tears towards the end, and “Bleak Horizon,” which despite its title, is actually rather upbeat, featuring the bots singing together that they “won’t concede to a bleak horizon!”
Overall, I would highly recommend giving the album a sho. If you like it enough, pick up tickets to see the ‘bots and humans perform in Everett on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. If you love steampunks, robots, cool makeup or just good music, it’ll be worth your while.