Backyard Babies

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Right from the opening charge of sludge guitars and big-ass drums, it's clear that the Backyard Babies aren't there to mess around -- and they don't. The foursome sounds like they're blowing up the studio as much as recording in it, and while it's clear that Dregen's Hellacopters participation means that the two groups have a related sound, the Babies sound a little more glam/punk and a little less MC5/Stones. There's at least one Ramones shirt on display in the band photos, but there's easy echoes of the Damned and classic sing/shout-along acts like Die Toten Hosen, among many others. Only just, though, even if the Babies' general look is pretty damn enjoyably trashy in comparison to the other band's cowboy hats and belt buckles (Nicke Borg's back cover pose and purple Naugahyde jacket is plain brilliant). Like many of the Scandinavian garage rock monsters of the '90s, there's no real message per se in the songs -- instead, there's something far better: pure entertainment. With a voice both rough and surprisingly fluid and strong, Borg raves and leers about everything from "the boy without a record deal" to saying that "among the gods I feel power and joy." Who could blame him? Together Borg and Dregen play their guitars to the point of sheer abuse, while the Peder Carlsson/Johan Blomquist rhythm section could probably take on the original New York Dolls' backup ten times over. Stone cold highlights are everywhere -- the joyous abandon of "Look at You," the romantic (or at least sexual) angst anthem "Ghetto You," and the mighty "Bombed (Out of My Mind)." The basic Backyard Babies recipe is great enough, but when the foursome try fooling around with other approaches, it's even better. "Highlights" is huge doom metal with riffs and pace to match, and Borg's twang is laden with enough echo for even Dave Wyndorf. The American version includes two bonus tracks, the scratch-laden delight "Babylon" and the horn-driven "Rocker."

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