By Metal Dave
With due respect to Hanoi Rocks, Michael Monroe’s best run is now. Fightin’ words, perhaps, but the truth is worth the risk.
On a raucous roll since 2011’s “Sensory Overdrive” and its 2013 follow-up, “Horns and Halos,” the iconic glam-punk singer is back with “Blackout States,” the third in a near-flawless trifecta of madly infectious, lose-your-mind rock-n-roll.
A potent mix of shimmer and snarl, “Blackout States” finds Monroe stretching his vocal delivery on the title track while adding swoon and polish to the age-be-damned “Permanent Youth” and the ’80s-flavored pop ballad “Keep Your Eye on You” (is that a Psychedelic Furs bass line?).
The sway-along choruses howl like barroom chants on “Dead Hearts on Denmark Street,” “Walk Away” and “Goin’ Down With the Ship.” The latter, quite honestly, should be an inescapable, feel-good smash. A more perfect piece of raise-a-pint cheer candy simply does not exist.
Warm nods (pun intended) to Sid Vicious (“Old King’s Road”), Johnny Thunders (“Six Feet in the Ground”) and Dee Dee Ramone (the Dee Dee-penned “Northern Lights”) keep their doomed punk spirits alive while the feral stomp of “The Bastard’s Bash” adds Monroe menace via the Stooges.
As always, there’s a fair share of looking back, kissing off and breaking shit on “Good Old Bad Days,” “This Ain’t No Love Song” and the furious “RLF” (are your ears burning, Mario Escovedo?).
“Blackout States” also continues the against-all-odds trilogy of incoming/outgoing guitarists who happen to be formidable songwriters. This time, Rich Jones (ex-Black Halos, Amen) replaces “Horns and Halos” guitarist Dregen (Backyard Babies) who replaced “Sensory Overdrive” guitarist Ginger Wildheart (The Wildhearts, Hey! Hello!). Got that? Trust me, it’s impressive.
While such turnover might derail a lesser crew, Monroe’s band of gypsies — longtime partner-in-crime Sami Yaffa (truly one of rock’s most underrated bassists), guitarist Steve Conte and drummer Karl Rockfist – remain knock-’em-dead reliable and wholly unaffected. Amazing.
Like its recent predecessors, “Blackout States” offers rock-n-roll chemistry that’s nothing less than explosive. Glammed-up, punked-out and swaggering with style and soul, this is how rock-n-roll gets done. And nobody’s doing it better.
* Overall Grade: A+
* Favorite Tracks: “Goin’ Down With the Ship,” “Good Old Bad Days,” “Dead Hearts on Denmark Street”
* Secret Weapons: Monroe’s supercharged sax and Yaffa’s agile punch
* For Fans of: The Black Halos, Diamond Dogs, Polka-Dot Scarves and Glitter-flecked Nail Polish