“Barb Wire Dolls are one of the most vital new bands in music today, representing all that is inspiring and furious about rock and roll”.
That’s one of the least hyperbolic statements to be found on the press release that was sent with the Barb Wire Dolls’ newest offering. If I read you some of the others, not only would you be clutching your sides with laughter, you’d be commiserating with the band too – for how can bands of modest talent and output hope to live up to that sort of whittering?
The fact of the matter is BWD churn out a very pleasant brand of quasi-thunderous big label rock, as far removed from the sort of ragged art-punk they purport to represent as it’s possible to be. Put out by Lemmy’s vanity label and produced by a man with Bush and Evanescence on his CV, Barb Wire Dolls are in for a big shock if they start to believe their own publicity.
Don’t get me wrong – the album in itself ain’t a bad one by any means. Vocalist Isis Queen (“named after the Greek Goddess herself”!) has a nice line in Patti Smith via Beki Bondage crooning, and on tracks like Take Me Home and the excellent Problem of T… (which sounds a bit like Aussie new wave shock rockers The Divinyls) the band are good enough to make you forget all about the hype and the silliness… in fact, had I not read that blasted bit of paper my enjoyment of the whole thing might have been enhanced…
The band hack away behind Isis in unflashy, workmanlike fashion, thick sludgy riffs and rock-solid drumming underpinning everything according to the Pistols blueprint, especially on the rousing closing number Rhythm Method, which rounds things out in spritely fashion; They really do try hard to be the living embodiment of LA punk through the ages, even down to having a song named for the Germs’ doomed singer Darby Crash, but when this much effort has obviously been put into something that shouldn’t really take much effort at all, it’s hard not to listen to the alarm bells ringing in one’s head. Very pleasant for what it is – excellent, in places, in fact – but very definitely not the genuine article that it and the people around it so desperately want to be.