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'Cubes, Primitives in Hollywood's Bastion of Attitude

February 19, 1990|CHRIS WILLMAN

Iceland's Sugarcubes and England's Primitives are two bands noted for "attitude problems"--audience-baiting and aloofness, respectively. Thus were they suited to pair up for a Friday double-bill at that steamy bastion of attitude, the Hollywood Palladium.

The intricacies of the Sugarcubes' inventive sound were lost in the Palladium's non-musical acoustics, and singer Einar Orn's thickly accented insincerity got older faster. It didn't help that the 65-minute set was sabotaged halfway through by the departure (from "vocal strain") of female singer Bjork Gudmundsdottir, the yearning musical good cop to Orn's ranting bad cop. Left to front the group alone, Orn did so as if leading a thrash band, and some of their most popular numbers were necessarily preempted.

If the 'Cubes weren't quite up to their good rep, the Primitives--who got mediocre notices for previous club appearances--overcame their bad one and were actually enhanced by the hall. Their noted lack of charisma was less of a drawback in this unintimate setting, and their simpler sound--a Velvet cushion with bubble-gum underneath--filled the Palladium with a big, bouncy, beautiful post-Blondie power-pop foam, as if new wave never went away.

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