STICKY - The Trouble Dolls (Half A Cow)
Any time I see the word "dolls" referenced in a band's name or album title, something Pavlovian inside me clicks on and I start thinking about Johnny Thunders and Sylvain Sylvain torturing Les Pauls in their private world, recycling old Chuck Berry and Stones riffs, or that doll somebody drove through Jerry Nolan's bass drum head. Oh, and those come-fuck-me platforms David Johansen wore on the cover of the first New York Dolls album. Can't help it. I'm in a rut. Maybe I've been in Detroit too long.
In the grand tradition of Italy's Motorama, here come The Trouble Dolls, who are about as far from the Bowery's finest as Kenny G is from good old coked-and-doped Keith Richards (I don't care what anyone says - I still say he's putting something in his coffee besides Rebel Yell). While the band does call New York City home, "Sticky" is totally devoid of the grit, swagger, and "bite me" attitude which has led many to believe, perhaps delusionally, that it's The Greatest City In The World (patent pending).
Anyone's who's been paying attention knows that for the most part, I have a slight uh, mental problem when it comes to females stepping up to the mic and Cheri Leone's sensitive, vibrant, near-angelic singing on "Sticky" makes me want to up my meds. Sounds contradictory, doesn't it? Her voice, centered in a register about as high as anything I've ever heard in a rock and roll band, brings album opener "7:05" to a screeching halt despite the best efforts of the rest of the band churning away behind her. Matty Karas pushes Leone aside for a go at "Japanese Gum," but Leone chimes in on the choruses and Karas skulks back to his guitar duties for the rest of the album.
Call me a "throwback," but traditional, full-blooded, verse-chorus-verse songs with rhythm, hooks, and swing still go a long way with these tin ears and for the most part, all three are missing here. Moody, swirling interludes which masquerade as songs, like "Something Blue Amazed Me," "Invitation," and "Meeting On The Side" are enough to warrant investing in a drool cup you may find useful after nodding off. The only thing missing from the checklist of things which have no business being on a rock and
roll album is a flute.
The lyrics? Lights out... Fave couplet: "Fuck me with no protection/Kiss me with morning breath." Yuk.
Other than Half A Cow being headquartered in Australia, it's baffling how this prissy, yet accomplishly played and produced album found its way to the Bar. Maybe we need a woman reviewer around here. - Clark Paull
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