Human Sexual Response is one of the few New Wave groups that is . . . new. This newness is due, in great measure, to the fact that they are "old": They adhere to certain musical values that have not been present for some time. Harmony, melodic invention, instrumental dexterity and intelligence are all a part of the group's compelling sound.
The group's show Saturday night at the 9:30 club was a remarkably invigorating musical display that engaged both the mind and the feet. Sharp, complex vocal phrases insinuated themselves into a musical mix that was compositionally dense and rhythmically furious.
With an unlikely lineup of four singers and three instrumentalists, the group forged musical statements that were unique yet familiar. The lead vocals were enhanced by three-part harmonies, while the guitar, bass and drums provided a backdrop that blended '60s-style folk rock with jarring, abstract electronic sections. The result was music that resembled Karlheinz Stockhausen by way of the Mamas and the Papas.
And the group's name? Well, other than a passing reference to an unofficial sex study and a song that asked the question, "What does sex mean . . .?" there were mercifully few gimmicky tie-ins to the show. What mattered most was that the music was almost as enigmatic as the human sexual response.