Author: By Jim Sullivan, Globe Staff
What is Helium? A light, noble gas; a not-so-light, provocative band. Helium — fronted by singer-guitarist Mary Timony, with ex-Dumptruck guys Brian Dunton on bass and Shawn King Devlin on drums — have a sound that is often airy and spooky. For a while. Then a distorted guitar blast will enter and an angry squall will ensue, making Helium delicate and dangerous.
Helium has been together just over a year; they mesmerized a recent sold- out Middle East Downstairs crowd; they have a five-song EP, “Pirate Prude,” due on Matador next month; they have an alluring video of “XXX,” made by ex-Volcano Sun David Kleilor. It shows a sullen, angry and, yes, sexy, Timony, barefoot and clad in a candy apple-red baby-doll dress.
“Yes, I’m sullen and withdrawn, and I take out my anger,” says Timony. ”It’s not up to me about the other part. But my outfit is like a joke — it’s about feeling like I’m being treated like a commodity by certain people. The song is a defense against that. You want me to play this role as someone who’ll do anything for you? Look what you’ve made me into, a prostitute. OK — I’m gonna kick you in the face.” The song’s resonant rejoinder? “I’m gonna make you pay with your life.”
Timony admits it can take time to grasp Helium: “Not that we’re that weird, but if you don’t get it, it sounds boring — sometimes we’ll play the same note for seven minutes. The music is supposed to imply more than it says.”