Review Summary: Warrant improves with this album, but only just so much.
One and a half years later after outright poor Ultraphobic
Warrant with the almost unchanged line-up (only the drummer was replaced in the meantime) released a new album – Belly to Belly
. If you take a look at the cover you might notice numbers ‘96’ under the band’s name. Quite possibly it is there to highlight the fact that this is new Warrant, which left its glam past behind and directed its gaze towards a modern and trending sound. If indeed this is the message, then let’s try and see what they have to offer.
A person who happened to listen to Ultraphobic
might recall that a number of songs on it followed the grunge template. Also, they turned out to be completely dull and bland (as well as the record in general). However whether the band actually considered them a success or Jani Lane & Co. wanted to redeem themselves for such an artistic failure, but they decided to enter the same river. You read correctly, Belly to Belly
comprises entirely of alternative rock. Persistence worthy of respect, unless it means poor judgment. Still it should be said that the second attempt is a better one.
It was already mentioned that all songs are in the genre of alternative rock. But this time the sound is not as straightforward, instead filled with various sonic flourishes, making the listening process a bit more intriguing. Sometimes it feels like Lane extensively studied the excellent Superuknown
and then attempted to create something similar. Psychedelic, swirling guitars in a number of tracks convey that suggestion; some songs sound rawer, eliciting associations with garage rock. This allows to call Belly to Belly
a more adventurous album sonically, and in some aspects can be favorably compared with the band’s best album Dog Eat Dog
In terms of lyrics Jani Lane took a small step forward, but that is after he made a few in the opposite direction earlier. Even though most songs are formed around vague existential motifs, typical for the genre, the statement can be comprehended. The mood created by the lyrics is varied but there is almost no despair or frustration, practically missing anger for anger’s sake. The topics brought up by the songwriter do not really transcend the usual fare but still given some weight. For example, one of the stronger tracks, A.Y.M
, is notable for its ridiculing of the Seattle sound and respective culture (though the result is ambivalent if you take into the account Warrant’s attempts to be a part of said culture). Another meaningful track is Indian Giver
with its 'People unite as we are one' message, however it is weighed down by the chorus that boggles the imagination with the lack thereof: ‘Who am I? I am you and I / Who are you? You are me too / Who are we? We are you and me / Who are they? They don't matter anyway
’. Though, to be fair, it is only one of a few such moments on the album, and more an exception than a rule.
Nevertheless, despite certain improvements on musical and lyrical levels, the album leaves almost no impression after listening - a characteristic associated with almost any release by the band. However, while before some stronger tracks were capable to raise the overall impression to the ‘Ok’ level, this time it doesn’t go above ‘Average’. Still, there are two or three decent songs on the album: abovementioned A.Y.M.
, Coffee House
with its somber acoustic riff and aggressive Vertigo
. As a result Belly to Belly
takes its place somewhere in the middle of the band’s discography, but regardless a certain improvement, it doesn’t measure up to more solid and successful earlier efforts.