Saturday, May 18, 2024

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys is holding a CD release party for “SteamShipKillers” on June 4. (Photo: Marc Levy)

By now I should be deep in an obsession with the new album by The National, listening to it on iTunes’ endless repeat whenever it’s not on endless repeat in my head. This is how I consume music.

But something else came along and pushed it down the playlist: “SteamShipKillers,” by Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys. With this full-length album not yet available online, the first chance to buy is June 4 at a CD release party at Club 939 in Boston.

Seize it! The show launches a monthlong tour with Jaggery, simultaneous with Humanwine touring until August, and that leaves the area bereft of its most addictive, immersive performers.

“SteamShipKillers” can help fill that void. It already has a hold on me. It’s the Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys album I’ve been waiting for — the one that, painstakingly produced by Lainey SchoolTree, comes closest to the rush of seeing the band live.

An eponymous download-only album from 2006 holds 13 tracks from which the band has largely moved on. “28 Seeds: The Last Radio Show” is a conceptual piece done for the RPM Challenge in which story detracts from the kind of live-show steam that leaves you sopping and grateful. The “Casualty Menagerie” EP from 2008 is too mournful. Even though four of the songs reappear on the new album, they are mingled with the raucous, chill-inducing, heart-stopping tunes that make the band’s performances so vital — such as “A Friend in Goddamn,” “Cataclysm” and “Off With Her Head” — and pleasantly menacing, addictively jaunty genre pieces such as “No Room” and “Hole in the Boat.”

“Time — she is out of time. Fate — it was meant to be this way,” Sickert roars in “Cataclysm,” before pounding out “Planet Killer” and “Pale Horse” (or crooning the album’s closest thing to a love song: “Heroin Pig”).

“Hole in the Boat” is perhaps the album’s jauntiest tune, but this waltz’s lyrics offer the good cheer of a wake:

President Lincoln in a theater thinkin’

Now he can never go home

Harry Houdini, he died on Halloween, he

Can never go home

There’s a hole in the boat and now we can never go home

JFK and Jesus Christ,

Now they can never go home

The little girl from “Poltergeist,”

Now she can never go home

There’s a hole in the boat and now we can never go home

This is all dark fun, attudinally aligned with the morbid humor Oingo Boingo used to show and its appropriation of the grinning skeletons of Dia de Los Muertos celebrations. It also makes for great listening and, at 13 songs and 46 minutes, a pretty satisfying experience. The stuff that remains missing, including the band’s thrilling sing-along cover of the “Ghostbusters” theme, may appear on a live album in October, but it’s also possible going to shows is the only way to get that final kick (which is not an unpleasant prospect).

Sickert writes the songs, which are performed by a band that can grow to a dozen or more members, some playing instruments, some spilling off the stage in performance art pieces and burlesque routines.

Throughout “SteamShipKillers,” you get healthy dollops of his signature humor, which is mischievous but — this especially comes through at shows, but tracks such as the animal experimentation protest “Revenge of the Rats” help make it clear — promises doom to the forces of intolerance and violence against the innocent.

It’s this combination of wit and strength, aided by an imposing physical presence, adoption of eccentric and appealing steampunkery and fearlessly booming voice, that makes Sickert so seductive. He’s a shaman whose cult embraces dancing into the abyss, or at least strutting around the edge for a while.

And now he’s given us the soundtrack.

The National will have to wait … maybe until it’s too late. But what a way to go.

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys plays with Jaggery on June 4 at the Berklee College of Music’s Club 939, 939 Boylston St., Boston. Tickets are $10 in advance through TicketMaster or $12 at the door. For information, click here.