PRETTY BOY FLOYD – Public Enemies

As a teen and into my twenties I always had a thing for theatrical bands and bands with a really strong image. I also bought everything that sported a great hook and catchy, sing-along ish refrains. I guess it all started with Sweet and Kiss as a small kid and when, much later, bands such as Mötley Crüe, W.A.S.P. and Twisted Sister came along, I jumped went along for the ride whole-heartedly. That also made it easy for some bands when MTV became huge – pop choruses and a strong image were perfect for MTV. But that also meant that bands with little and no talent could have hits and it was enough for me and my peers to see that hit video on the screen to go out and get copies of certain albums that maybe we wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for MTV. I totally went for bands such as Tigertailz and Madam X, who came in the back water of the mentioned bands that I truly loved. Another one of those bands was Pretty Boy Floyd, who released their debut album Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz back in 1989.

I was completely floored by their brilliant pop pearl “Rock And Roll (Is Gonna Set The Night On Fire)”, a song that mixed the glam pop of Poison and the more raunchy vibes of early Mötley Crüe. So I headed out and bought the album right on the spot. However, the album failed to knock me out and apart from the mentioned song, I only cared for the cute little teen-pop ballad “I Wanna Be With You” and the cover of Mötley Crüe’s then unreleased song “Toast Of The Town”, the rest of the album left me pretty cold. So off to the second-hand record store with all mentioned albums I was and the interest for said bands waned faster than my paycheck right there and then. I know that PBF have survived in different constellations and musical directions since then, but they have only released five studio records, this one included (also a Kiss covers album is included in there), one E.P. and two live efforts in all those years. Today, only singer Steve “Sex” Summers and guitarist (and on this album, bassist) Kristy Majors remains as original members. Drummer Chad Stewart is the band’s time-keeper today.

So, you can all guess how intrigued I was when I got the news that PBF were about to release a brand new album, an album that was supposed to be their actual follow-up the debut, style-wise. But since I refuse to dismiss anything because of their past, I decided to give this one a fair chance. Maybe they would surprise me with this one. I mean, stranger things have happened. After the short intro “S.A.T.A.” (why do bands feel that there’s a need to give a short, pointless intro a name and make it a song of its own?) the band burst into “Feel The Heat” – a fast, hard and rough, very metal influenced glam rocker. Direct and distinct with punch and attitude, it catches me off guard and the fact that the chorus is damn catchy, the tune won me over directly. Who would have thought? “High School Queen” is so very PBF both in style and in title. It is groovy, catchy and so very glam and it’s actually a really good song. However, it feels just weird that a bunch of 50+ dudes are singing about high school queens…

The title “Girls All Over The World” speaks pretty much for itself when it comes to a band of PBF’s reputation and it sounds exactly as one could have guessed. A fast, sleazy pop-rocker that wouldn’t have made a fool of itself on the band’s debut. It’s a catchy tune but lyrically a bit dumb and I guess it won’t end up on any playlist of mine anytime soon. “American Dream”, however, is much better. It’s a punky, raunchy and kicking sleaze rocker with a brilliantly catchy verse that sticks better than the chorus. That said, I have a feeling it will be a future live killer for the band. Then it’s ballad time – as in power ballad anno 1989. “We Can’t Bring Back Yesterday” is the title and no matter what the title says, that’s exactly what PBF are trying to do here. This is total glam-pop-rock balladry, very catchy and hit-laden, written for radio and MTV back when and if anyone told me this was a left-over from their debut, I’d believe that in a heartbeat. It also sounds a lot like Danger Danger, I think. No matter if you love it or hate, it will stay in your mind and leave you humming it forever. Make of that what you will.

“We Got the Power” is also total glam-pop-rock with a huge chorus that gives Poison’s early albums a run for their money anytime and it’s a musical time-machine back to 1988. And just like the ballad before it, it has a refrain so catchy it will make you scream. For pleasure or for pain, it depends on where your tastes lie. Me, I just can’t take it seriously, it almost feels like a joke – like Steel Panther minus the humour. “Do Ya Wanna Rock” is a short, concisely and in-your-face with a punch, like early, early Mötley Crüe taking Poison to the prom with Van Halen as a chaperone. Very distinct and even powerful and I can’t seem not to surrender to it even though it might not last forever in my playlist. They go a bit heavier on “Run For Your Life”, more hard rock than actual teen pop where the glam is pretty much out of the way. It do bring some diversity to the album even though song is only ok. “Shock The World” is more on the catchier side and they play out the mix of plain hard rock, arena rock and sleaze/glam in a really good way, plain and simple.

“Paint It On” runs by fast and this plain arena rocker fails to make any impact at all. it’s ok while listening but it disappears into thin air the second it ends. “7 Minutes In Heaven”, on the other hand, catches on right away. It’s an upbeat, slightly punky arena rocker with attitude and a refrain that gets under my skin some. Very catchy indeed. “Star Chaser” is a pop song in a rock disguise that’s filled up to the max with teeny pop-glam and a catchy and radio-friendly chorus so sticky it would make a guy like Max Martin sell his mother to write it. It’s hard not to like this one, to be honest. “So Young, So Bad” is another glam pop tune dressed up as hard rock. Lyrically, it’s a pubertal overkill (“you should be home playing with your dolls instead of here playing with my balls”) so much I cringe with embarrassment. A lyric like that from a 50+ is just so… wrong. Are they trying to out-Steel Panther Steel Panther? Ouch!

Yes, style wise, this album is an absolute follow-up to the debut, both lyrically and in style, so if you loved that one then this album is a no-brainer, you can buy it without any hesitation at all. Hell, Steve Summers sounds exactly like he did back in 1989, like a Vince Neil on helium. But for me, this is just too shallow and I feel it lacks substance. But, yes, the guys do know their teeny glam pop-rock and I guess they do what they do well. Even though I know that rock and roll is supposed to be ageless and all that but for me, when guys in their fifties are singing youth anthems that even a 25-year-old would find a bit too ridiculous for comfort, I have a hard time dealing. Steel Panther, some might say, but those guys are a piss-take, a metal stand-up comedy and can’t be compared to this. Call me pretentious if you want but this is too much nonsense for me, so much that even the songs I like can’t save it. Also, why have they stolen Iron Maiden’s font for their logo?

4/10

Tracklist:

1. S.A.T.A.
2. Feel The Heat
3. High School Queen
4. Girls All Over The World
5. American Dream
6. We Can’t Bring Back Yesterday
7. We Got The Power
8. Do Ya Wanna Rock
9. Run For Your Life
10. Shock The World
11. Paint It On
12. 7 Minutes In Heaven
13. Star Chaser
14. So Young So Bad

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