Party Animals (Abacus)
by Tim Den
I must admit, after the reunion album, Scandinavian Leather, failed to light a fire under my ass, I wasn’t sure if I was gonna be able to get (ahem) behind Turbonegro‘s plot to return to the filth rock throne. Where was the ballsy punkness? The self-destruction? The nihilistic attitude toward sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll? Scandinavian Leather served up mid-tempo, slow-ish AC/DC swagger, but that was about it. No impending doom, no going-out-in-a-fiery-blaze. I was about to turn my back.
But then I saw (and loved) The ResErection. The documentary not only made me appreciate the band more for who they are as people – genuine, pure of heart, even relatable to a certain extent – but it reignited my passion for their rock. So I waited for Party Animals with baited breath, hoping it would completely rejuvenate my interest in the mighty Jugend.
And behold! It has fulfilled my wishes. Party Animal returns speed and scum to Turbonegro’s arsenal, retaining the early years’ hunger with the post-reunion fondness for stadium rock. The frenetic attack of “All My Friends Are Dead” sounds like it could’ve come off of Apocalypse Dudes, while “Blow Me (Like the Wind)” (ha ha) is the logical continuation of Scandinavian Leather‘s sleaze romp, only better. And if you think the latter’s title means the band have refocused their lyrics on raunch and irreverence, you’re right on the money. “If I ran for election, would you support my erection?” Childish, yet just ridiculous enough to illicit an honest chuckle. Plus, how can you not appreciate such platinum wisdom as “tell your boss he can invoice my ass” or “I don’t care if your house is in pieces/I don’t care if you cry for Jesus/when you find yourself in a storm of feces/FECES! A STORM OF FECES!?” Rhyming “feces” with “pieces” is genius, in my book.
Elsewhere, vocalist Hank von Helvete dabbles with silly wordplay (“If You See Kaye [Tell Her I L-O-V-E Her]”: Say the title fast), pays tribute to the band’s influences (nabbing song titles from The Clash [“Stay Free”] and Black Flag [“Wasted Again,” which coincidentally – or not – features guest vocals from original Black Flag vocalist Keith Morris]), and actually gets a tiny bit serious on “Stay Free,” as he examines his own mythology. It’s a sign that maybe the dude has grown up just a tad, a fact reflected in (gasp!) the use of strings in certain songs. The end of “Final Warning” is a sonic overload of crescendos, while the second half of “City of Satan” (after its boring, Queen-like beginning) climaxes like the final battle scene in The Two Towers: A heavenly army appearing on top of the hill just as the sun rises, sweeping downward into oblivion with no looking back. It’s not Ass Cobra‘s gutter serenades, but it’s no less huge.
Party Animals is Turbonegro’s REAL return to the top. It’s got everything you love about their classic albums, with a few “mature” elements thrown in for good measure. Additionally, it has the best secret song EVER, which means it’s time to put your cheeks into denim and down the zipper!