I really want to like this CD more than I do. The packaging is restrained but artful, the use of burnt-out matches, and sepia-tinted studio photos, suggesting a somewhat dissolute bunch of battle-hardened musicians. The music also gives you the impression that these guys have seen plenty of action on the road: whiffs of Exile-period Stones, a faint aroma of Lynyrd Skynyrd, plentiful use of Hammond organ. The sound is nothing if not robust, numbers ranging from straightforward boogie ("Dead Man's Chest"), the early REM-esque "The Maze" and the very effective guitar-driven "Honey Murder". Musically, Lavendore Rogue steal influences from all over the USA and meld them together creatively and artfully. Nothing to complain about there - you'd be forgiven for placing them somewhere on the Gulf, rather than the Essex, coast.
Lyrically, however, the album is a bit of a clunker. "Animal", which depicts a post-war murder, seems to relish in the gore; "Riot" which no doubt has admirable intentions in promoting racial harmony is awash in bathos "There's a riot in London Town, 'cause some black man got shot down"; The former single "Gangsters, Thieves and Villains", who are apparently "all family men at heart"; "A.S.A.D." which is a cautionary anti-drugs tale, awash with cliché, sounding like a cross between Big Country and the theme from Auf Wiedersehen Pet (which claims the narrator "makes heroin"?); "Siesta Resistance" an, er, anti-sleep song(?) based on a genuinely fat Zal Cleminson-like guitar riff; and "Play It All Night Long", a humorous take on southern boogie.
It's a real shame that the lyrics let the album down, as musically the band certainly has a lot going for it, and JoJo Burgess's vocals have a real grit to them. If I was a non-native speaker I'd probably like this album a lot more than I do.
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