Review Summary: Never mind the fillers and a disappointment. Here's the Queens of Noise.
The second album is always a hard test. It’s finally all about the music, no shocking factor anymore. The Runaways’ new effort is full of good music, emotion and uncontrollable talent. Lita Ford, the lead guitarist, has let loose and evolved into a hard rock riff-mistress! Her shredding has improved and the other members gave her the space to let go. Joan Jett’s song-writing skills, also developed since the first album. Although her style of playing is not technically impressive, her sound is tighter, with many catchy tunes going on. On the other hand, Cherrie, the vocalist, although lost some her edge, still managed to give her best performance. Some you win, some you lose, they say.
As in the first album, the opening song serves as a welcoming tune and an eye opener. Queens of noise picks it up from where the debut ended plus its better produced. After the first hit, the album can be divided in three different parts: the balladry, the mad rockers and the disappointing effort to play the blues. The new influence is the moody, yet not extraordinary at all balladry, a taste of LA 80’s glam rock to come. Midnight Music and Heartbeat reveal a more sensitive, musically and lyrically, side of the runaways, especially Cherie’s. The soloing from Lita is always there to save the day for the sake of true rockers. Born to be bad, interestingly enough, is almost a ballad and a much, much better effort. Although it starts slow, it quickly erupts into a, darker than ever, hard rock menace. Joan Jett’s rumbling in the middle section of the song, followed by Lita’s solo, is the most emotional part of the Runaways in my book.
Have the runaways gone all gothic on us, then? I don’t think so! Take it or Live it and I Love Playing with Fire, reminds us why we liked the girls so much in the first place: riffing like hell, shredding solos and punkish vocals, some solidly performed by Jett alone. It’s evident that she’s got her own punkier thing going on, a solo artist in the making. Neon angels is a sonic dynamite, plain and simple. The riff is as huge as Godzilla and Lita from now on is considered dangerous. Finally my cliché: if it’s one song to hear from the Runaways, it’s California Paradise. They never got any better than this. It's also Cherie's best vocal performance by far.
After Hollywood, which is a strong rocking tune -a bit repetitive though-, a rather ill-fated attempt hits. Johnny Guitar is an under produced, full of reverb, 7-minute try to play the electric blues. Slow riffs with no real emotion accompanied with endless soloing that seems out of place, the band is playing out of their turf now. Overall, it’s a weak song that can only stand as a testimony that the band still didn't play it safe.
As always, the Runaways are straightforward, what they feel is what you get. In the first album they were a team. Queens of Noise features two ladies that want to be leaders plus one that wants to quit. The moments, though, the queens of noise work well together, magic is born.