Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Big D and The Kids Table - 'For the Damned, The Dumb & The Delirious'

You could go one of two ways with For the Damned, the Dumb & the Delirious, the new back-to-basics ska-punk record from Big D and the Kids Table. Either it’s a victory lap after all the genre hopping the band committed before inventing stroll, a new ska subgenre, on 2009’s Fluent in Stroll, or a creative backpedal after that record alienated some the D’s fan base. Given that Damned is steadfastly adequate, both assessments are fair.

Damned takes on elements from the D’s last three proper albums, How It Goes, Strictly Rude and Stroll, essentially making it a career overview in terms of style, if not quality. There’s the occasional dip into dub (“Roxboury (Roots n’ Shoots)”) and a couple of tracks featuring Stroll’s backing vocalists, the Doped Up Dollies, such as “Stringers.” But for the most park, it’s the ska-punk old school fans loved on Good Luck and Gipsy Hill.

While I love Rude and Stroll, I was still excited to hear D reunite with the mighty “fast beat,” and for the first few tracks, Damned is a fast, fun summertime record. “Walls” opens with such a classic How It Goes riff that I forgot Sean P. Rogan isn’t in the band anymore. The horns come in at just the right moment to push that song over. “Clothes Off” keeps the good vibes going, even if that chorus is way too sloppy. “Modern American Gypsy” is another quality rocker, while “Best of Them All” is top notch joke song about drankin’ with a slight Dropkick Murphys edge.

So far, so good, but not long after “Best of Them All,” Damned starts to peter out. Or rather, it repeats D’s previous successes. “Riot Girl” is another peppy ode to a brassy lady in the vein of “Doped Up Dollies on a One Way Ticket to Blood” or “My Girlfriend’s On Drugs,” but by this point in the band’s career you know where the song’s going. The way frontman David McWane keeps using the phrase “riot girl” comes off calculated, as if to say, “Forget that I wrote about being a scumbag to women on ‘Shining On;’ I’m down with feminism.’” Taking a stab at political hardcore on “Brain’s-a-Bomb” doesn’t go over so well either. A large chunk of the album’s middle is forgettable.

Damned rights itself near the end, and by the time “One Day” and the hidden track pass by, it’s even enjoyable. But in trying to recreate the band’s supposed glory days, it comes off as second rate nostalgia. While Damned doesn’t tarnish the D’s legacy and certainly boasts enough solid-to-good songs to justify its existence, it’s still a major disappointment after the string of creative successes the band pulled off last decade.

1 comment:

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