Adam Ant

Adam Ant Is the BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter

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Last time Adam Ant released an album, chart success was possible, even expected, so he indulged in his softer side on 1993's Wonderful. Those were different times. Twenty years later, the music biz has fractured and Adam himself hasn't had an easy time of things (the past two decades were littered with tabloid stories of his travails), and he's decided to seize these two events on the wild, sprawling double-album Adam Ant Is the BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter. Its convoluted title refers to Adam's early persona, pirate torture, and record label machinations and, unsurprisingly, the album addresses all of these problems and more -- including "Who's a Goofy Bunny," an old demo revived as a tribute to the departed Malcolm McLaren -- channeling all these thoughts into something of a concept album portraying Adam Ant as a lone warrior combating the world. Or something. It's hard to tell and ultimately it matters little, because much of the appeal of The BlueBlack Hussar is its mess, how the Adam works feverishly to incorporate any idea he's ever had into one album. He's working with a couple of guitarists -- he fell out with old mate Marco Pirroni early on in its composition -- relying mainly on Morrissey lieutenant Boz Boorer but also finding room for 3 Colours Red guitarist Chris McCormack, who provides the album's harder, steelier punch. At times, there is a conscious evocation of Adam & the Ant's dark, early material but that's often overshadowed by the heavy swing of Boorer, who keeps things lively, swinging, and weird. Adam Ant has never quite flirted with rockabilly or blues here, but this is hardly roots: all these elements are processed, sequenced, and flattened through digital recording, lending a mischievous malevolence and no small sense of artifice to even a simple, three-chord rocker. Honestly, there's nothing quite "simple" here: Adam tells a dirty joke then winks at the audience, he overloads a simple beat with unnecessary accouterments, he laces dread throughout a sweet doo wop "Valentines," joyously salutes old rocker "Vince Taylor," then attempts futuristic industrial on "Hardmentoughblokes." There's too much going on in every individual song and, at 17 cacophonic tracks, Adam Ant Is the BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter is simply way too much to take in at once...and yet, that's precisely its charm. Adam Ant has never let so much loose, has never attempted so much on one record, has never sounded this ambitious and arty since the days of Dirk Wears White Socks and Kings of the Wild Frontier, and even if not everything works, this is a bizarre, brazen statement of purpose from an artist who has been in the wilderness for far too long.

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