Born Again (MVD)
by Scott Hefflon
Some things get better with age, most don’t. Punk rock is unforgiving, cuz while another Eagles reunion is borderline acceptable cuz they were wimps to begin with, aging danger punks limping around the stage on bad knees, nursing bad backs, well, they can’t even dodge the lumps of poo lobbed at their heads, and where’s the fun in that? The Dwarves, against all odds (which is the way they like it), still rock you and your mom and your barely legal sister into a sweat.
Born Again is 18 new songs to fingerfuck your eardrums, ranging from harmony-ladden rampage (no one ah-ahs to such heart-pounding beats and catchy choruses as the Dwarves) to near doo-wop teenage thrills. Only Blag is getting a handjob under the counter at the malt shop. There’s no big bass hip-hop, which is surely ok with me, but I did love that The Dwarves Must Die‘s “Christ on a Mic” started tight-assed white-folk church organ and morphed into slippery punk thumpa and record-scratching wicca-wicca like you’ve never heard before. So yeah, no shit-talking rap like the slow butt-wiggle of “Massacre,” (and no noir spoken work like the stunning “Surfing The Intercourse Barn” off How To Win Friends And Influence People) but 15 seconds into opener “The Dwarves Are Still The Best Band Ever” and you’ll be singing “let’s get high and fuck some sluts” at the top of your lungs along with them. (My apologies to the rest of the wedding party. Note to self: Don’t preview CDs while bored at weddings.)
There are solid new gems to add to their stunning list, there’re some “hey, isn’t that the riff from another one of their kick-ass songs?” moments, but you can chalk that up to self-referentialism (Dwarves have never been against quoting other moments of their sheer freakin’ genius, but I suspect that’s to distract you while they steal your drink and slip a finger up your girlfriend’s ass), and on the whole, if none of these 18 songs get your head bobbing and your heart racing, well, check your pulse.
My faves are the opener, the twisted announcer-ladden “Zip Zero,” the mid-’90s punk whoa-oh of “Happy Suicide,” and my new favorite, “Working Class Hole.” Aside from being as catchy as a cold sore, it’s, like, heartfelt. Sure, they swear here and there, but it’s an anthem for working stiffs everywhere. I’ll put it up there with The Godfathers’ “Birth, School, Work, Death” (which Local H covers gloriously), Todd Rundgren’s “Bang the Drum All Day,” and Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It” as my favorite mantras to get through yet another day of “seriously? This is what I gotta do with my life to pay the bills?”
After 25 years of punk rock debauchery, the Dwarves are still kickin’ ass, sounding great, and making it all look easy.