Nobody knows how to make an impression anymore. Forget ‘Jesus Walks,’ try making your introduction to the music world dressed as a tree.
You’d think the man who quite literally wrote the rock n’ roll bible would have seen everything by now. But imagine Nikki Sixx’s reaction when his new singer turned up for the band’s first gig, supporting Taproot and Mudvayne in front of a few thousand sexually frustrated frat-boys, in a painted bodysuit with a leather skirt and leaves around his neck. That’s the kind of impression that doesn’t come out on the first wash.
The band: Brides of Destruction. The singer: London LeGrande, a 6’4” hairdresser from Atlanta with no previous experience fronting an international rock band. The players: Nikki Sixx and Tracii Guns, bass player and guitarist, ex- of Mötley Crüe
and L.A. Guns
respectively, and journeyman drummer Scot Coogan, whose touring credits include Otep, Sinéad O’Connor and Vanilla Ice. Ex-Crüe screamer John Corabi was briefly on board, before returning to his day job as a solo artist and member of Ratt, as did drummer Kris Kohls, whose beats are heard on four of Here Come The Brides
’ nine tracks.
Now well into their 40s, Guns and Sixx may have left their wildest days back in the early 90s with shell tracksuits and the Stone Roses, but there’s scant evidence of this on the Brides’ raucous debut LP, a record that’s already been compared favourably to Mötley Crüe’s 1981 classic Too Fast For Love
and L.A. Guns’ 1989 breakthrough Cocked & Loaded
. Here Come The Brides
captures the same provocative and uncompromising spirit and melds half a century of combined writing experience to produce an album that’s both unabashedly a pop record and raw enough to make even the sleaziest customer take notice.
Album-kicker ‘Shut The Fuck
Up’ threatens to re-define gratuitousness, an explosion of Detroit-rock fervour that channels Sweden’s greatest, the Backyard Babies
, but has only one target in mind: the Commander-in-Chief himself. God knows what possessed them to write about poor Bush in such a manner; the president is lambasted, labelled “a pathetic talking head, a product of your walking dead, your war machine evangelistic machine,”
while the vocal melody climbs and falls elegantly, giving the verse an appropriately Middle Eastern feel, a clever technique that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
‘I Don’t Care’ continues in the same vein, with freight-train pick scrapes and London boasting ”I’m Kickin’ out the Jams like the MC-5”
and ”I’m all spaced out like a UFO,”
but it’s The Stooges
who come to mind as he all but attaches the leash himself. ‘Natural Born Killers’ seems like the ready-made single with a Bono-like “coo-ed” hook and a curiously less ballsy mix than the other rock tracks; it could have been 2005’s ‘Crazy Bitch,’ yet it seems political statements trump murder proclamations every time.
Nikki originally wrote ‘Only Get So Far’ for country’s cutest couple Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and the couple were ready to take it when Tracii pulled the plug and insisted it become a Brides track. The group beefed it up somewhat, but the sentiment remains; it's a touching ballad that will ring true for any couple that spends a lot of time apart, with the tagline, ”if you’re lonely today, I’m not far away because you’ll only get so far without love.”
London’s demonstrates his versatility on the track, toning down his usually choked, aggressive approach to reveal a surprisingly sweet ballad voice. He and drummer Scot Coogan lay down some stunning two and three-part harmonies on the track, a distinguishing feature they also use on ‘Brace Yourself’ and ‘I Got a Gun.’
‘Life’ sees Coogan take lead vocals and, though his voice isn’t as distinctive as London’s, his less heavily ornamented style works well, (intentionally?) augmenting the lyrics, which are the strongest on the album. Nikki’s never been the most gifted wordsmith, but ‘Life’ is a perfect example of his blunt approach: ”This is life, this is it. It’s not everything you want; it’s everything you get, believe it. It’s not worth leaving.”
Too often on the other tracks, however, Sixx’s lyrics begin well but lose focus half-way through, painting half a picture and leaving the other half blank, as is the case with ‘I Got A Gun,’ a hypothetical conversation with his absentee father, and ‘2x Dead,’ a conversation with his crack-addict former self.
This apparent loss of focus translates to the music as well. At just thirty-eight minutes, it’s a short album, but large parts of the album feel longer than they actually are. The frequent tempo-shifts of the Soundgarden
-like ‘I Got a Gun’ and ‘2x Dead’ are well-executed, but they all but kill the momentum built up by the opening tracks; the 90-second coda that plays out ‘Natural Born Killers’ is a great way to finish the track, but it would sound a lot better had the three preceding tracks not each incorporated a similar section. It the lack of structure, the sense that a lot of the record was jammed out rather than properly thought-through , that makes the album less enjoyable than it could be. Here Comes The Brides
rates significantly better if the tracks are taken individually, as an album it’s flawed but highly recommended.