As glam rock revivalists the Darkness know too well, the problem with being an "ironic" musical act is that it's hard to sustain the joke for more than one album. Welsh collective Goldie Lookin Chain's puerile tales of suburban life act briefly resonated with British rap fans looking for a comical and more relevant antidote to their U.S. contemporaries back in the mid-noughties, but Eggsy, Maggot, and company's failure to develop their self-described "pimp-rock" sound means they've since become more renowned for appearances on Big Brother and Z-list talking heads shows than their unique take on chav culture. The title of their fourth studio album alone -- Asbo 4 Life -- indicates that things aren't about to change any time soon, and despite a few attempts to tackle serious issues such as binge drinking (The Twang-esque lad-rock of "Unemployed and Overdrawn") and social disillusionment (the spiky lo-fi "Nothing Ever Happens"), Goldie Lookin Chain are still obsessed with the unashamedly immature side of life that their hometown of Newport's other contribution to modern pop culture, Jackass wannabes Dirty Sanchez, have also built a career on. The Beck-inspired trash rock of "Disguise" discusses how to buy weed without getting caught by the law, "Space Police" is a nonsensical slice of icy Berlin-influenced electro about a robotic policeman named Tony, and "Garlic Bread" is a bizarre stab at avant-garde pop that uses the Peter Kay catch phrase as a metaphor for love. While their stoner humor is unlikely to have anyone other than teenage boys bursting their sides with laughter, GLC often transcend their dubious lyrical content with tracks that would comfortably fit into the back catalog of the likes of Bloc Party (the nu-rave indie of "Strobe Lights"), CSS (the bass-heavy art rock of "By Any Means Necessary"), and the Hives (the garage rock of opener "Mister Fahrenheit"), while "New Day" is a rousing terrace singalong that offers a surprisingly melodic pastiche of All Saints' soulful chart-topper "Never Ever." Despite their new guitar-charged direction, Asbo 4 Life is unlikely to convert anyone who previously didn't really get the joke, but less po-faced than the Enemy, and less pretentious than the Streets, it's still a much-needed lighter take on contemporary British society, while also providing a few potential indie-disco staples in the process.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien