Every now and then, I hear comments from fans that Backyard Babies has been on a downward spiral – albeit maybe not a very steep one – since they released Total 13 back in 1998. Me, I beg to differ vigorously on that one – for me it’s the opposite, maybe for the exception of the underwhelming People Like People Like People Like Us (2006). Then again, I’m neither a big Punk fan or someone who took Backyard Babies to my heart when they first started out. The first BYB album that did it for me all the way through was their self-titled comeback album from 2008 and their even more come back album, 2015’s Four By Four. See, I really dug when BYB decide to change some of their Punk in favor of more Arena Rock-like arrangements with a slight nod to Melodic Hard Rock. That said, I know that many loves them for their energy and explosive, ferocious attacks but for me it’s all about catchy songs and the melodies and on the last two records there are shitloads of those with hooks enough to sell.
With a wish that the new record will be in the vein of their last two records I push play and “Good Morning Midnight”, the album’s second single, does its best to beat me up. With lots of attitude, a punky punch but with melodies that makes old Glam and Melodic Rock bedfellows, the tune is unmistakably BYB – very raw and in-your-face yet catchy as hell. A great way to get the album on track. “Simple Being Sold” is a steady, fat rocker with a robust groove, a melodic main-melody and a refrain that bites a hold – good stuff. The album’s leading single “Shovin’ Rocks” is an upbeat Ramones meets Hanoi Rocks kick-ass rocker with a good dose of sleaze that holds an intense melody, a catchy refrain and loads of live-feel. A celebration of “thirty years of rock and roll” and an ode to rock-music, this one have every chance to become a new fan favorite and a future live-killer. Great!
“Ragged Flag” holds a major groove powered by a funked up twist of the guitar lick over a beefy beat and some Pop flavored but punky vocal melodies that makes sure the chorus is so catchy it damn hurts. This is a meaty and direct rocker that again will rock you to the bone when played live. Brilliant. “Yes To All No” brings on some more laid-back and softer yet naked verses but with a punchy and striking refrain that takes no prisoners. What first fooled us to be a ballad turned out to be just as much a chunky rocker – very good. “Bad Seeds” is classic BYB, a punchy stomper that strikes with their brand of sleaze-pop-punk-hard rock, hard-hitting and in-your-face yet melodic and catchy. Killer stuff. Latest single “44 Undead” is a pop-punk with an early Kiss twist with refrain that’s partly “Minus Celsius” revisited without self-cloning. With hooks and attitude in a fine mix, this is a classic BYB belter that sure kicks up dust. Good.
The hook-laden title-track shows classic BYB meeting up with a more Melodic Rock twist – punky, raw and tough with melodies and catchiness like that source is endless. Very good. “A Day Late In My Dollar Shorts” (awesome title!) is a punchy rocker filled up with Pop melodies, a Classic Rock swagger done in a sleazy, dirty and raw BYB way. I can see this one going down live like a charm as well. Great. The album’s closer “Laugh Now Cry Later” is also the album’s only ballad. It’s a rock-ballad, stripped down and with a melancholic atmosphere. Led by a piano and acoustic guitar, the tune brings on quite a big Rolling Stones influence. Towards the end the song grows bigger and bombastic without letting go of the stripped outlook. It’s a clear winner with big melodies and a refrain that really sticks, however I’m not so sure if a ballad like this is the best way of ending a record like this.
For my taste, BYB are again delivering the goods but the question is what the Total 13 fans will think of it as it is closer to their last two records in style. BYB will never be an AOR act of any kind even though they do sport shitloads of hooks, brilliant pop-laden melodies and catchy refrains that at times comes pretty close to American Arena Rock of the late 80’s but everything they do, they do with a FU-attitude, aggression and raw power. Quality wise when it comes to the songs, I hold both Backyard Babies and Four By Four a bit stronger than this one but nevertheless, this is damn fine effort that shows that BYB still have got what it takes 30 years down line. Very good, boys.
More Backyard Babies reviews:
2. Simple Being Sold
3. Shovin‘ Rocks
4. Ragged Flag
5. Yes To All No
6. Bad Seeds
7. 44 Undead
8. Sliver And Gold
9. A Day Late In My Dollar Shorts
10. Laugh Now Cry Later