Review Summary: There’s little reason to actually own Melody and the Tyranny beyond satisfying one’s curiosity before Libertad drops
‘Melody and the tyranny’- that’s only one step away from ‘melody and the tranny,’ right? It’s like the 80s never ended.
Not so for Velvet Revolver; formed from the ruins of sleaze metal kingpins Guns N’ Roses and Seattle bandwagoners Stone Temple Pilots, they’re aiming to dump the dubious “supergroup” tag with their second full-length album Libertad
next month and fortify their position at the top of the hard rock establishment. Though guitarist Slash punctuates the lead track of teaser EP Melody and the Tyranny
with sharp glam rock chord stabs and dizzy leads, ‘She Builds Quick Machines’ bears most of the clichés associated with heavy rock in the post-grunge era: slick, though sludgy, production; a quiet verse, loud radio-crafted chorus dynamic; and the rehashing of ideas from a previous hit (an all-too-common occurrence known as the ‘Nickelback Model’)- in this case 2004’s far superior ‘Slither.’
Yet it’s not so much the ‘Slither’ similarity which is bothersome, rather the sledgehammer chorus which lodges itself in the brain through excessive repetition rather than a genuine melodic construct, and the generally poor standard of the often nonsensical lyrics. At one point, Weiland opines, ‘she ran away to Texas, to keep away the excess,’
where a rhyme wasn’t really needed at all. Elsewhere he trots out the tired rock cliché ‘she keeps her motor clean,’
which only makes slightly more sense in the context of the nonsense title. And those are just the memorable
lyrics. More convincing are the EP’s two other audio tracks: album track ‘Just Sixteen,’ essentially ‘Hot For Teacher’ taken to its logical conclusion, and ‘Psycho Killer,’ a surprise cover of Talking Heads’ post-punk classic.
‘Just Sixteen’ succeeds everywhere ‘She Builds Quick Machines’ fails, demonstrating a real musical progression from 2004’s Contraband
, albeit with Brendan O’Brien’s typically muddy production style. If ‘She Builds Quick Machines’ represents the blandest of today’s radio rock, ‘Just Sixteen’ is as natural and uncomplicated a power pop song as the reader is likely to hear. In the grand pop tradition of challenging established norms through infectious melodies, ‘Just Sixteen,’ possibly from the pen of drummer Matt “Jailbait” Sorum, tells of a relationship between a female teacher (Mrs. Jones, appropriately) and her sixteen year-old student which is spectacularly busted when she’s caught giving him head in his dad’s car- anybody who’s watched Fox News in the last year will know what a hot topic this is. Slash is re-invigorated, laying simple blues licks over Dave Kushner’s buzzsaw accompaniment, and Weiland reaches into the depths of his bassy repetoire for the chorus vocal.
Melody and the Tyranny
’s hidden gem is a heavy blues reinterpretation of ‘Psycho Killer’ by way of George Thorogood and the Destroyers. While Weiland stays faithful to David Byrne’s vocal, the band take liberties with the arrangement, substituting the original’s clean, funky guitars for slide and wah effects and a heavy, plodding rhythm section. The ‘Making Of’ video documentary is surprisingly lacking in insight, mostly cobbled together from videos released during the album’s production, offering snippets of songs but hardly enough to turn the listener on or off. The fifth and final track is a live video recording of Contraband
’s ‘Do It For The Kids’ from a concert in Houston, Texas, in 2004; this energetic number was chosen to open the band’s set at Live 8 in 2005 and features the memorable pseudo-refrain: ‘went too fast I’m outta luck and I don’t even give a ***!’
The relative sparsity of new material included in Melody and the Tyranny
is disappointing, though understandable as the album is a mere four weeks away. ‘Just Sixteen’ will give Libertad
’s prospects a whole new complexion for many disappointed by the rock-by-numbers ‘She Builds Quick Machine.’ ‘Psycho Killer’ and ‘Do It For The Kids’ are worthwhile collectors items, at least while the band holds off on a concert CD/DVD, but as a record there’s little reason to actually own Melody and the Tyranny
beyond satisfying one’s curiosity before upcoming festival dates and Libertad
’s release on July 3- perhaps that’s why it’s only been released in Europe and Australia with a limited print run of just 5,000.