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Test Icicles, ‘For Screening Purposes Only’ (Domino)

British tradition dictates that bands occasionally appear out of thin air complete with decent tuneage and loads of random praise. The mother country never tires of instant music-critic declarations about how some skinny dudes are the most brilliant things since French riots, even though said group still have milk in the fridge that they bought when they were anonymous — and it’s still drinkable. Enter Test Icicles: three London lads who look like they stepped off a Fashion Week runway, listened to Brooklyn’s tight-trousered neo-new wave, and thought, “Right, why not us?” No years of pesky slogging in the indie trenches for these blokes — just two grimy singles, an album cover that looks like a Hot Topic ad, and a MySpace page that, at press time, clocked more than 20,000 pals and is still growing.

The frail bodyslams on the band’s debut album throb and stagger as if throbbing and staggering were against the grain. Amid drums that may or may not have been made by a human, Rory Atwell, Devonte Hynes, and Sam Mehran trade off noisy guitar blasts and vocals ranging from death metal to Yeah Yeah Yeahs on a dime turn. Sadly, the Testes seem to think the dance-punk formula is a Gordian knot only they can cut, not a familiar template they’ve retooled with bits of third-hand hip-hop and, hello, Slipknot. (The masked ones are cited without irony in Test Icicles’ press kit.) “Boa vs. Python” tries to court the indie-noise set, while “Circle Square Triangle” Bloc-parties with the club kids, and “Catch It” charges at grindcore speed. Still, the loudest howl comes from the hype machine. We can guess where these guys’ balls are, but where are their heads?

SEE ALSO: A.R.E. Weapons, A.R.E. Weapons (Rough Trade/Sanctuary, 2003)