Reviewed: February, 2018
Released: 2017, Livewire/Cargo Records
Kory Clarke continues to lead an ever-revolving door of new musicians forward into a world that looks even worse than the one he railed against in the 90’s. BACK ON THE LASH is the first new album since 2012’s STIFF MIDDLE FINGER and 9th overall. In a sense, BACK ON THE LASH moves slightly away from SMF, an album that was more firmly rooted in the band’s 90s approach. Kory and crew are more raw, direct and punky on BACK ON THE LASH, but the anger and devotion to inebriation continue to inspire the lyrical themes.
Best to get this out of the way, but the main problem with this album is that Clarke’s vocals are clearly blown and ravaged from years of hard living. Whether that is a problem for you or not, it is for me. Musically, everything feels economized to a point of being simplistic, but that does not mean there are not a few gems to extract. “American Idol” is typical Kory, railing against society in a song that is more accurately half a song, with a broken guitar riff and nothing else while Kory explains that he is an American idol. Fortunately, the album’s best song follows, “I Get Fucked Up” perfectly representing Clarke’s philosophy with a stripped but catchy rhythm. The title track also boasts a worthy opening riff before Clarke’s hoarse struggle to sing begins.
Songs are in and out quickly, with BACK ON THE LASH running for only 32 minutes. When the haze of weed and crack smoke dissipates, you have an album with bounce and a driving force that still leaves you feeling hungover, as if the band dragged you with them on an all-night bender. My overriding impression is of an album only half finished, songs not deliberated and tweaked to the extent they should have been. As a result, there are good ideas and parts of songs on here but nothing that will blow you away. Whether Clarke has enough time between imbibing to write proper songs anymore is the question. With BACK ON THE LASH at least, he proves when the muse does speak to him, he still has vital music to contribute, but unfortunately that is only about half the time
1. American Idol / 2. I Get Fucked Up / 3. Back On The Lash / 4. Further Decay / 5. Thrill Seeker / 6. Goin’ Broke Gettin’ High / 7. Black Out / 8. I’ve Got The Rock / 9. That’s How We Roll /
Kory Clarke – vocals
Stevie Pearce – guitars
Christian Kimmett – bass