When the first guitar chord on the Mission Creeps' latest album arrives, it's like a crashing wave, a moment of energy, collision and reverberating aftermath.
It's a thrilling kick-start to the Tucson goth-surf-psychobilly band's Midnight Blood record, a collection of 10 songs that can both jump on the listener like a haunted-house spook and give a hair-raising tingle by slinking around shadowy corners.
That first track, "Igor's Mind," is a study on that famed character who's been mostly an empty vessel. Here, however, Igor is a strong and calculating force of evil, a one-eyed gravedigger who can "see more than they know."
Elsewhere, the Mission Creeps deal in zombie imagery and metaphors—as on the final two tracks, "Can't Find Any Brains" and "Any Good Zombie"—and light candles to songs about witches and skeletons. Although at first blush it might seem campy, Midnight Blood takes sophisticated turns lyrically. "Skeletons" backs away from any sort of judgment or shame, saying of dirty secrets: "Skeletons/ Everybody's got one."
Musically, the Mission Creeps are one of the most perfectly named bands around, with thumping and thudding drums, thick and edgy bass lines and guitar leads that scream, wail and shudder. Guitarist-singer James Arrr and bassist Miss Frankie Stein prove again that they simply own their groovy, dark realm.
The Mission Creeps play a CD release show with Grave Danger and the Furys at 9 p.m., Friday, May 10, at the Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. Fourth Ave. $5 cover. 882-0009.