No Way Out
Jesse Malin: Vocals
Chrysalis / EMI Records: 7243 8 30050 2 4
The first time I held this CD in my hands I could tell, just from looking at the sleeve, that this band would let nobody water down their message in order to make it more palatable to a commercial audience. They obviously had their own ideas, their own way of doing things and they weren’t going to entrust any part of their work to a third party. Even the band name logo seemed to ooze an attitude across a sleeve that screamed “death to the American corporate dream.” And when I turned it over to read the thirteen song titles I knew that their uncompromising and unapologetic approach to music was ‘4 Real’ and that they weren’t going to sell out quicker than you could say Manic Street Preachers at the first sniff of a number one hit single!
Although the band openly claim to dislike this album due to their dissatisfaction with David Bianco’s production, the fact remains that every one of the songs is a musical masterpiece… So with that in mind this album could have been recorded in Jesse Malin's bedroom on a cheap tape recorder and it still would be a Rock’n’Roll classic.
The opening track of the album, ‘No Way Out’, thunders in like a machine gun that’s indiscriminately firing off rounds of ammunition while vocalist Jesse Malin spits the words in your face with contempt for your pitiful, mundane existence. Not even the Sex Pistols’ ‘Holidays In The Sun’ managed to open an album in such a brutally incriminating manner. Without a break to divide the songs or catch your breath, ‘Sins Of America’ takes you on a disturbing, but nonetheless very true, journey through western culture and mentality. Third song into the album and there’s still no respite as ‘Guitar Mafia’ punches you in the face with lines like “Sitting in the chair, remote control long hair / mom and dad don’t mind / the Whitehouse says it’s fine, it’s porno to the blind.” Then ‘Feel Like Suicide’ rings around your head so true as Jesse screams “And there’s nothing you can do to make me stay / cause I can’t relate to anything you say” that you realise these songs are conveying real heartfelt emotion that could only be written by someone who truly feels the same way as you do. The album is just too damn honest for any kind of commercial success, it forces you to think about the real issues of life and confront the taboo thoughts that you are encouraged to never release from your head. So as it concludes with Reagan Youth’s aptly named ‘Degenerated’ you inevitably feel disorientated and confused but with the passing of time it has become clear that this has got to be the most accomplished and condensed indictment of the 1990’s. If you had the notion that Oasis, Blur or even Nirvana were the embodiment of the last decade it’s time now for you look back over those ‘Wasted Years’ and think again!
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