Album Review: SPiT LiKE THiS - "Normalityville Horror"

Nickelback.

That’s an extremely charged word for anyone who has a more-than-casual interest in music of any type. Nickelback has come to symbolize all that is wrong with mainstream radio, the music industry and the lowest common denominator. More to the point, Nickelback also represents the current state of popular rock, encompassing the twin ideas of sleaze and arena rock.

The keyword in all that as it pertains to SPiT LiKE THiS (I’m only typing that once,) is “sleaze.” Since the advent of Nickelback, sleaze, a once proud genre that couldn’t even be killed off by late-era hair metal, has been pushed to the margins, virtually left for dead by the underground, and abandoned by metal. Spit Like This is on a journey to bring sleaze back (cue Justin Timberlake?) And it’s not really a secret. At last report, the band traveled around in a customized hearse called “The Boner” after all.

But this band is promoting sleaze through it’s most traditional path – dripping with image and rolled in Rocky-Horror-drama. If listeners are taking songs like “The Dumb Song” seriously, then they’re either looking for something that isn’t there or missing the point. The tongue of “Normalityville Horror” is buried so far in cheek that it’s like there’s a popcorn fleck bothering the palette of the band. (Side note: “The Dumb Song” has a chorus that reminds a little of Motley Crue’s “Dr Feelgood.” Just sayin’.)

The band then combines their unveiled humor with a Misfits-ian sense of songcraft and the absurd. This explains the cadence and pop sensibility of the title track and “Dragged Kicking and Screaming” the latter of which could have almost, ALMOST passed as a song at a high school dance in the early sixties. Following in the tradition of the Misfits, Ramones and all the pioneers of American punk, Spit Like This (who is English, for the record,) are playing the roots of rock and roll at a faster speed more than anything else.

There is another side to “Normality Horror” and that is Spit Like This’ ability to turn on the edge at the drop of the needle. Suddenly and out of nowhere we have the opening, de-tuned chug of “Very Very Good at Being Bad” or “Teen Angel” both of which are pleasant surprises amidst normally light-hearted fare.

If I were the type of person who rated albums out of ten (and I’m not, for reasons I’ve stated before,) this record would be a seven, give or take half a point. Most times, a seven is a great record that has a flaw or two, but “Normalityville Horror” is free of critical flaws. Rather, it also possesses no particular ascension. It’s a very solid jack-of-all-trades record, but I suppose the subtext there is that it is a master of none.

Spit Like This and their new (albeit re-released) album are buoyed by spot-on idiomatic performances, most notably that of head vocalist Lord Zion, who uses his voice as another instrument to set the tone and pump up the sleaze for the forty minute duration. If sleaze is ever to break free and return to accepted prominence, it will take the continued, well-heeled effort of bands like this. “Normalityville Horror” is a very good start.

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