“Th1rt3en or Nothing” starts the album with a rock riff running around, then the band jumps in and it sounds as if the punk element of the band is now moved to the side and rock is the main influence with a pop flavour added to the mix as well. The verses are very stop start and have a cowbell going on throughout the song that keeps everything ticking along; now anyone who is wanting the ‘Total 13’ version of Backyard Babies might be disappointed by this, but I rather like it and the sound is certainly an improvement over other songs from their solo careers. It is a rock ‘n’ roll song with a few pop flavours in there and it does not sound too bad, it is only designed to get the party started and that is fine by me. “I’m On My Way to Save Your Rock ‘n’ Roll” has more rock that “Th1rten of Nothing” has and it is that quintessential Backyard Babies attitude that has been missing for far too long. It is like the Wildhearts – when they get it right, they fucking nail it and this song is one of those tunes where the planets have all come together to make a song that is as good as “Brand New Hate”, “Robber of Life” or “Cockblocker Blues”; it has the energy, the solo, the riffs – it could save rock ‘n’ roll for someone and it is a welcome return. The third track is called “White Light District” and which is another high octane rock ‘n’ roll number that keeps it all very simple for you – loud chorus, simple verses, all instruments singing in unison without smothering each other and all wrapped up with a snarling vocals, gang shouting bridge and sing along chorus. It is so simple and easy that it is surprising that no-one has tried to do this before – just the way all rock music should be.
“Bloody Tears” is the acoustic guitar/piano time with reflective lyrics about letting people down and not wanting to be in the way of their lovers. Self-pity in rock is not something that tends to work for me, it has a limited appeal and it is much the same here. However, it is played very well, the chorus is a joy, the solo is one of the best on the album and whilst it is not to my exact tastes I can see why this would appeal to other people who might have it as their top song of the album – it is just down to personal taste in the end. “Piracy” is back on the rock and it makes all the right moves for me, it is just another rock song that makes the world fill with colour and feel like a better place when it is on. The riff digs in your mind and stays there for ages afterwards and that solo just shreds it for me, it is very close to being the top track of the album and it is a great example of prime Backyard Babies. “Never Finish Anyth…” is a decent number that keeps the album on its chosen course, it does nothing that has not been done before, but it is just a good rock song that keeps the album going and whilst I am not loving it as much as other tracks it is one I would not skip if it came up on a future playlist.
“Mirrors (Shall Be Broken)” is another slower number that showcases the tender side of the band, with a token song about being cruel to be kind by ending a bad relationship. Normally I run in the other direction of this type of number, I blame Poison for that fear. But this song is not too bad, it has a good riff and the lyrics are actually very clever and the band sound tight as a nut on the number. It is one of those songs that is so big that it is hard to ignore, even if it goes against your usual tastes – well played sirs, well played. The penultimate song on the album is called “Wasted Years” and it is an energetic sub-three minute anthem that bring some energy back (not that “Mirrors (Shall Be Broken)” was monolithic by any stretch of the imagination. I love this song as it is once again a basic number that is sometimes exactly what the doctor ordered, it does exactly what a rock song should do and you could not ask for any more than that. Ending the album is “Walls” which starts with a standing bass sound, the acoustic guitars are back (but with no ballad in sight) and there is a sense of fun here which is showing a different side of the band once again as it is not relying on their tried and tested rock formula (although it does revert to type in the chorus sections). For a band such as Backyard Babies this is a big step, when some bands try to something new there is an outcry and gnashing of teeth – this song though, it is very clever and shows that the band are willing and able to try something different. The multiple endings are cool as well as it goes on for about seven minutes and I can see this ending their shows in style at the moment.
It is nice to have the Backyard Babies back, it has been far too long without their own brand of rock ‘n’ roll lunacy in the world. The punk element to their sound is drifting out of focus, new elements have been added and that is fine as the end result still sounds like a Backyard Babies album. Whilst some people might think nine tracks is too few, I think that the length is right. We do not want the band to outstay its welcome on their return and albums that are too long will never suit this band. They also haven’t focused too much on what is popular, yeah there is a slight change in sound but nothing too dramatic and that is good to hear as well. The only time they really step out of their normal sphere is towards the end and it is a good song, progression is important and there has been some here. This is a much better album than I was anticipating to be honest and I am glad of that, now don’t leave it so long next time…..
8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart
Top song – I’m On My Way to Save Your Rock ‘n’ Roll
You can purchase Four by Four here
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