The Dirtbombs

We Have You Surrounded

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Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome America's newest protest singer -- Mick Collins! OK, that's going a bit far to make a point, but Collins does seem to have more serious matters on his mind than usual on the fourth album from the Dirtbombs, We Have You Surrounded. Fans looking for more of the Dirtbombs' patented R&B-seasoned garage punk assault still get what they came for with tunes like "Ever Lovin' Man" and "I Hear the Sirens," and those fascinated by the band's way with a cover will want to cue up their re-imaginings of Sparks' "Sherlock Holmes" and Dead Moon's "Fire in the Western World." But there's a decidedly apocalyptic undercurrent to this collection of songs -- technology turns its back on us all in "Wreck My Flow," the environment is at the point of collapse on "Fire in the Western World," greed and vanity turn dangerous in "Pretty Princess Day," survivors struggle through the wreckage of our society in "Leopardman at C&A" (written by Collins and famed comics scribe Alan Moore) and the whole saga reaches its logical conclusion en fran├žais on the closing number, "La Fin du Monde." Even the album's free-noise freak-out "Race to the Bottom" seems filled with an unspoken anxiety. But if the Dirtbombs fear for our future, they sound determined to go out with a bang -- We Have You Surrounded is tighter and more focused than 2003's Dangerous Magical Noise without sacrificing the frantic energy that's always been at their core, and Troy Gregory and Ko Melina sound better integrated into the Dirtbombs lineup than they did on the split-LP Billiards at Nine Thirty as this band rages against the dying of the light. Maybe Mick Collins can't save the world, but he's got plenty of worthwhile things to say on this album, and his global angst beats Bono's for sheer entertainment value any day of the week.

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