Feel adrenaline it's burning When you taste blood It's just a warning On your marks! Get set! Everybody ready!
That’s how you start an album! None of your shiteing around here. Let’s just accelerate right out of the gate in a big bright yellow rock muscle car, stereo blaring heading towards Valhalla, a showdown with local law enforcement, or just to Burger King – whichever comes first. Flame on! Flame out!
Welcome to Backyard Babies Stockholm Syndrome, released to an undeserving world in 2003 and easily one of my favourite rock LP’s of the 00’s*. On their mighty fourth LP Backyard Babies execute a perfect hard rock storm, executing a scorched earth and scorched nostril approach that was remarkable even amongst the fabulously high standards of their Scandinavian peers of the time.
Oh and it may be time to post some kind of objectivity warning: there ain’t none. I just lap up this ridiculous cocktail of tough melodic sleaze rock and punk attitude by the bucketful. All I need to hear is lead guitarist Dregen unleashing one of his short, sharp solos and I’m gone, daddy, gone.
Case in point is opener ‘Everybody Ready?!’ which does scorch out of the blocks like their compatriots the Hives on a G’N’R bender, just the sort of tune I daren’t play in the car. Sure, it’s daft as hell but isn’t that the whole knowing pantomime point of rock and metal? it is all inherently ridiculous and we just have to glory in the power and the gory whilst shaking our long locks free and proud**.
Stockholm Syndrome just slaps us with one great hit after another, ‘Earn The Crown’, ‘A Song For The Outcast’, ‘Minus Celsius’ and ‘Pigs For Swine’ all fly past, pleasantly hooky and gritty before you even notice. Each and every one a winner. Trust me, I’m a doctor^, just hook this up into your vein:
Come on, it’s perfect , as is lead guitarist Dregen; I mean is it actually physically possible to sling a guitar lower? the solo is absolutely bang on, short, tuneful and simple. If I was in a band every single video I ever did would be set on a roof. Fact.
The playing is all on the money. Drummer Peder Carlsson hits a bit harder and straighter than most sleaze-os and I like the scaffolding it sets for everything else here.
Side 2 opener ‘One Sound’ changes the pace down a little and adds a heavier vibe into the mix to great effect. The production on this one by Joe Barresi is great too. ‘Say When’ is the sole weak spot on Stockholm Syndrome for me, I mean it’s okay – but in this company that equates to a massive drop in quality; a backwards step that is redeemed instantly by the vicious ‘Year By Year’.
The next track ‘Friends’ is JUST FUCKING FUCKING FUCKING BRILLIANT!!! No, really, I mean it. A great stomping rootsy rocker^^, simple and catchy as hell where the Backyard Babies invited a load of their, umm, amigos to write a verse each and sing it, so we get alternate verses from:
- Michael Monroe
- Joey Ramone
- Danko Jones
- Nina Persson
- Kory Clarke
What a fabulous guest list/aftershow party right there! And those are just the folk who get to sing one^*. It somehow contrives to be a brilliantly cohesive tune too, Tyla true to form even injects some trademark bittersweet into the mix ‘There’s a girl that I love / Sadly she resides in Heaven up above’. Bless him. But don’t just take my word for it:
‘Be Myself and I’ rattles past like an express train after that and we are done hurtling into the bitter ‘You Tell Me You Love Me You Lie’; a song that I just itch to punctuate correctly. The latter is fine but not much of a climax for an album this good – the CD bonus track ‘Shut The Fuck Up’ would have been a far better choice, but hey, ho.
In a just and righteous world Stockholm Syndrome would have seen Backyard Babies breaking through to the same fame levels as late period Wyld Stallyns. It smashes past any rock I can think of released out of North America in that era. It is quite simply a really good listen, Backyard Babies mixing up their potent brew of spite and melody just right to hold you captive in a way you could get to like …. oh.
*I really don’t like the term ‘the noughties’ but I’m struggling for a better one.
**even if said locks have been entirely metaphorical since the mid-90’s.
^in a sort of ‘enthusiastic unqualified amateur’ way.
^^think Gaslight Anthem without the OTT nostalgia.
^*an eclectic mix of all of L7, Sami Yaffa, most of the Dictators, hip-hoppers Infinite Mass, one of the Dwarves and Turbonegro to name a few.