Reviewed: February, 2018
Released: 2017, Frontiers Records
Fourteen years is a long time between studio albums, but PUBLIC ENEMIES is the first new material from the band since SIZE REALLY DOES MATTER in 2004. The only activity in between was 2010’s KISS OF DEATH: A TRIBUTE TO KISS. Nevertheless, the band is playing like it is still 1989, and the casual fan would be hard-pressed to notice much difference between the new album and the band’s 1989 debut. Sporting two of the original members in singer Steve Summers and guitarist Krash Majors, PUBLIC ENEMIES is an album stuck in a time capsule, for better and worse.
Better would be the upbeat, catchy riff-rock the band excelled at in their early days. “Feel The Heat” has an edge to it, proving to be one of the heavier tracks on the album. “We Got The Power” could easily have been on the band’s debut and features familiar band-backing vocals for the chorus and upbeat guitar chords that recall the heady days of Southern California hair metal. Worse would be the insipid and frankly disturbing “High School Queen” delivered as if these dudes in their 50s are only a year removed from high school themselves, creepily praising the merits of high school girls. The irony of “We Can’t Bring Back Yesterday” is like a sucker punch, as the album clearly strives to absolutely bring back yesterday. Having said that, it is the type of power ballad you would expect from the band.
One of the positives of the album is the production, which manages to retain the feel of a late 80s mix but with enough modern moves to give it a full sound. Another positive is fourteen quick-hitting songs that do not exceed 43 minutes, but are remarkably low on filler. Lyrically, don’t expect anything profound, but one does not listen to hair metal for introspective observations. Still, be forewarned that these songs are written for an audience the band presumes is still in the 16-24 age range, in mind if not in body.
Ultimately, PUBLIC ENEMIES reside in that guilty pleasure zone, great for when no one else is around and a jolting blast from the past for a nostalgia fix is needed. Long-time fans should rejoice, as the band sounds like they have never aged. The music is delivered with enthusiasm and a knack for hooks that puts PUBLIC ENEMIES on par with LEATHER BOYZ WITH ELECTRIC TOYZ