Of course, with a name like Wikkid Starr, you know that there’s little or no chance of nuance or critical thinking going on over the forty-odd minutes of the band’s new album Sudden Impact.
The LA band promises a return to the eighties glory days of the Sunset Strip with Sudden Impact but, although they do occasionally show glimpses that they might be able to do justice to that claim (usually through the superior guitar playing of Kyle Kaye and Rafa Souza), for the most part the perspiration has it well over the inspiration.
As I’m stuck here in Wales, for the forseeable future it would seem, I’ve not had the chance to see WS in all their naked, steaming live glory, and the naive, no-holds barred sturm und drang of Out In The City suggests that on-stage is probably where Wikkid Starr get the most value out of their anthems to tattered glamour and sleazy love. In the exposed world of small-label recording budgets and tight recording schedules they just can’t add the required levels of stardust to tracks like All Hell’s Breaking Loose – certainly not to the extent that the songs deserve, anyway.
Better then, to treat this album as something of a barometer of potential rather than a testament to achievement; and with the parameters moved slightly it becomes well worth a listen. There’s no denying these boys’ commitment to the cause, and each member of the band pours their all into the record, even on less successful numbers like Hot Love, a track which seeks to marry Poison and Elton John but falls uncomfortably between those two disparate stools. Vocalist Toney Richards gives an, um, unreconstructed performance throughout, especially on caveman anthems like Bump and Grind, but, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s on selections like this where those glimpses of greatness I mentioned earlier make their presence felt most. Again, at the wrong end of a fairly large amount of Bourbon at the end of a hectic Saturday night in your local rock club, it’s easy to see tracks like this and Pump House assuming gargantuan proportions in the minds of the truly committed…
Betty Sue adds a bit of snakehipped ‘Smiffery to the more metalised recipe the band employs usually and stands out accordingly, whilst the poppier Partners in Life is also rather splendid, but at the end of the day this is a band that knows where it wants to be musically and isn’t going to listen to the likes of me as it tries to get there. They’ll keep hammering away at the sassy, low-slung old school metal and, with a bit of luck and a following wind, they might just hit some sort of paydirt. Good luck to ’em!
Sudden Impact releases today (January 25th).