By: Dennis Cook
Credit where credit's due: this is quality sleaze rock. The Crüe's ninth studio album is a loud, highly debauched middle-finger salute to the glitter and shinola of the City of Lost Angels. There's a sense of purpose and urgency that the band hasn't had since their Shout At The Devil '80s creative peak. What differentiated Mötley from the herd in the beginning was how they waded into darkness, scooping fistfuls of ugly onto what is essentially a style that was encased in amber in the early '70s. There's nothing significantly different about Mötley Crüe that the New York Dolls, Aerosmith and Alice Cooper didn't nail long ago. But, Saints of Los Angeles (released June 24 on Eleven Seven Music) reminds us with a crooked, nasty grin that these guys remain one of the few mascara wearing hair farmers still worth a listen after nearly 30 years.
Complex they ain't but there's something almost heartfelt about Saints, which offers real perspective on their spandex heyday and some honest regret over the bumpy road after success hit. Musically, they're tight and mean, abandoning ballads and the dumbstick nonsense of "Girls Girls Girls," and updating their sound with twitchy key stings, stuttering loops and the kind of modern dread that Trent Reznor has made a mint on. Not everyone can sell a line like "I'm the motherfucker of the year" but Vince Neil's sack is swinging large and he's spittin' venom like a trampled rattlesnake. It's a ball to hear him crawl away from his VH1 reality show path, and perhaps some of his anger and hardness here is fueled by being inside the emptiest of possible end roads for a time.
The album opens with an ominous drone and Neil intoning the following bit of mirthless spoken word:
Slithering towards the dream, all infected with the same disease, awaiting your flesh to be cloaked in silver, as the fatrats grovel, ready to steal your innocence and exploit your soul. Some will hit their knees in a rancid act of desperation while others search for a hopeless god to save them. For every four, there will be 100,000 fallen, drowning in a cesspool of awareness that they have failed. This city full of plastic angels will seduce you.
Ah, good times. The lack of sentimentality and hard-edged tone is what ultimately makes this their finest offering in 25 years. "Face Down In The Dirt," "The Animal In Me," "This Ain't A Love Song" and "Goin' Out Swingin'" rank amongst their best work. Despite the drama that probably still infects their backstage life, they've managed to pull their shit together and make a damn good rock 'n' roll slab. For anyone that still gets a sick lil' thrill when they drop the needle on Appetite For Destruction or Peace Sells…But Who's Buying?, well, here's another fine pool of bile to splash around in. Crank it up, scare livestock, break things, screw with abandon, smile broadly.
JamBase | SoCal
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