The Dirtbombs - We Have You Surrounded
So what, if anything, is wrong with We Have You Surrounded? Well, at times the answer is not a lot. The Dirtbombs are very rhythm heavy, and I mean very! Not only are there two drummers in this, but two bassists as well, with one bass seemingly permanently locked into the fuzzbox. This provides you with a dense and room-filling sound. The opener, "It's Not Fun Until They See You Cry" pretty much sets the stage, which really takes off with "Ever Lovin' Man", a kind of mix between soul and rock which would not have been out of place in the sixties and comes complete with wailing female backing vocals.
This style reaches its ultimate, inevitable conclusion with "Leopardman at C&A" and "Sherlock Holmes" which are without doubt the two best tracks on the album. Both have driving beats and simple, crashing guitar riffs. Both benefit from suitably daft lyrical premises and manage to come off as sounding like they wrote the words on the back of a fag packet the night before in the pub, yet when you listen to them, you discover that there is a lot of clever imagery - I particularly like the idea of hunting TV's for their skins on the former.
Unfortunately, the band cannot maintain those heights. Their failure to sustain these levels of style and skill pull the appreciation of the album down. The first inklings that things are wrong come with "Wreck My Flow" which seems as if an attempt to merge rap with garage has not met with the full support of all the band members. "Pretty Princess Day" is just plain stupid and a very poor attempt to be clever which does not come off.
The album hits rock bottom with "Race to the Bottom". After listening to the album a few times, this was the track I came to dread. Now the band may call it whatever they want - dark, ambient, experimental or whatever - but the truth is that it is just sprawling, incoherent, noise. No rhythm, no tempo, no melody. If ever the word "filler" needed a definition, look here. And for this disgrace to go on for more than eight minutes, it is pure and simply unacceptable by the band. The album concludes with "Le Fin du Monde". Now, I am not sure if this is Quebecois French or whether this is just plain badly pronounced French. Whatever - it is totally out of place.
So, what began as promising, reached pretty damn good in the middle, tails off badly towards the end. By the time you reach "They Have Us Surrounded" you are beginning to wonder if it worth listening to the rest. In truth, it is not. We Have You Surrounded had the potential to be one of the best albums of the year. As it turned out, it is just another sadly mediocre release
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