Thursday, January 19, 2017

Album Review: Stephen Pearcy - Smash

Here's an admission; despite being just old enough to remember the tail end of the 80s hair metal scene, I don't think I've ever voluntarily listened to a RATT song. In fact, despite knowing the names of one or two, I don't think I even subconsciously know what any of them sound like. RATT is, in my mind, one of those bands that has achieved a level of recognition that is mostly dependent on people remembering their name, and not their music. And that is without even getting into the fighting and legal issues that RATT has been going through recently. That's something that I am not even going to touch.

But while that is going on, Stephen Pearcy has been busy putting together a new solo album. That is what we're here to talk about.

For an album with a bright red devil on the cover, things get off to a slow and sluggish start. "I Know I'm Crazy" hs a slow buildup of swelling sound, and then meanders through an even slower verse that might be trying to be bluesy, but I can't really be sure what the aim is. Things at least kick into gear for the chorus, although that does lead us to my major problem with the album, which is unfortunately Stephen himself.

The 80s were a time of excess and decadence, where bands were able to achieve success as much through their big hair and bigger videos than through the music itself. Stephen, frankly, seems to be a victim of this. His voice just doesn't cut it for this music. His tone is too shrill, and every time he tries to power through, there is audible correction being done. It's not as embarrassing as some recent efforts by Geoff Tate, but Pearcy doesn't have the voice to be the centerpiece of an album anymore.

He could get away with his limitations if the album was designed to accommodate them. But it isn't. The band doesn't provide meaty enough riffs to take the attention away from Pearcy's voice, nor does Pearcy provide himself solid enough hooks to require our forgiveness. Too much of the writing is depending on Pearcy to have the vocal charisma to carry the load, and unless I'm pining for the old days, I don't see how anyone can say he does anymore.

I don't have a problem with meat-and-potatoes rock, but I still expect it to be good. On this album, I don't hear anything that stands out as being above average. It's a perfectly bland album that is entirely reliant on Pearcy to sell it. Whatever charms he has are completely lost on me, so I can't say this record has done anything for me. It's something that not long after this review gets posted, I will fade from my memory.

Kind of like the 80s...

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