IV by SpidergawdRelease date: February 24, 2017
Label: Crispin Glover Records / Stickman Records
We’ve all done it: put on a tune that makes you want to either sing along, form your hands into a horn or jump around the room. If you’re lucky the song will make you do all three, while in your mind’s eye you’re dressed in an AC/DC T-shirt, tight bell-bottoms held up by a bullet belt and finished off with a pair of white cowboy boots.
Some may call a song like this a guilty pleasure. That is, quite frankly, a load of codswallop. If you feel guilty about the urge to play some Van Halen or Slade’s ‘Run Runaway’ at window-rattling volume then you need to have a good look at yourself.
Because there is nothing guilt-inducing about rock n roll. It is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be silly. And overblown. Hell, sometimes it is even supposed to have a saxophone.
And thankfully Spidergawd are well aware of this. Because this album, the Norwegian group’s fourth (the clue is in the title), is a frozen-margarita-with-mini-parasol of a record: gaudy, fun and ripe for a party, but with a firm kick behind it. And yes, they do have a saxophone.
The album kicks off with ‘Is This Love…?’, which is a barn-burner about unrequited love that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Sure, if you want to be picky you could argue that all the tricks to hook you in have been done before by musicians from David Lee Roth to The Darkness, but that would be missing the point.
And the point is that this band sound like they are having too good a time to care whether people are looking down their noses at them.
The boogie is kept up on ‘I am the Night’, which begins with a rocking bass-led riff which is joined by a wah-wah guitar, so by the time the vocals come in you are not at all surprised to hear lyrics like “I am your fire [pronounced ‘fi-yah’, of course], gonna feel me burn, yeeeeah” belted out with gusto.
‘Loucille’ follows and man, it shows that the band have studied the ‘How to make a killer hard rock song’ manual to the letter. I haven’t heard such a catchy set of verses in a long while.
It’s not all beer and skittles, however. ‘Ballad of a Millionaire’ slows the tempo and calms the party down a little with its diversion into, well, ballads, while ‘What Must Come to Pass’ is a bluesy number with a psychedelic guitar solo, which shows that the band ain’t as one-dimensional as many would deride them as.
These two songs sandwich ‘What Have You Become’, which is great. It sounds a lot like the Hellacopters used to, albeit without the sneering – and of course with an added sax drone, which is present throughout the album, but never goes to the point of unnecessarily over-egging the songs.
The album is rounded off with ‘Heaven Comes Tomorrow’, another hard rocker enhanced by a pseudo-classical guitar vamp, and ‘Stranglehold’, which sounds like Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’ for a couple of seconds before stomping into a song that sounds like Rose Tattoo if they had stolen Mötley Crüe’s gear (we can but wish).
I am aware that much of what I have described will be nothing new to those who have heard Spidergawd’s previous albums. They have clearly found what they like and have stuck to it. There is nothing wrong with this: after all, it never did the Ramones or Fu Manchu any harm.
The trick that Spidergawd have achieved is that while sticking to their guns, they have also made an album which sounds fresher and better written than any they have done before. And that is quite a feat, especially given their output of more or less an album a year.
Get this, turn it up and just see if you don’t feel an urge to jump around the room with horned hands in the air. But remember, even if you go the full white cowboy boots, there is nothing to feel guilty about.