Backyard Babies

Four by Four

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In 2009 the Swedish punk-pop/sleaze-rock veterans embarked on an "indefinite hiatus," a sort of semi-retirement that seemed all the more concrete with the release of the career-spanning compilation Them XX. Backyard Babies officially reunited in 2014 and wasted little time in returning to the studio and getting down to business. The resulting Four by Four, the band's seventh studio long-player, picks right up where their chart-topping 2008 eponymous sixth LP left off, effortlessly pairing meaty post-grunge with earworm-heavy punk-pop and delivering it with both a smile and a sneer. Spearheaded by the propulsive single/opener "Th1rt3en or Nothing," a bluesy, cowbell-driven highway rocker that falls somewhere between Nazareth's "Hair of the Dog" and Alice in Chains' "Man in a Box," Four by Four, at just nine tracks clocking in at under 40 minutes, goes by awfully fast. For the most part, that penchant for brevity yields quality goods, with anthemic, mosh pit-ready cuts like "I'm on My Way to Save Your Rock 'n' Roll," "Wasted Years," and the soaring, brass-led "Never Finish Anythi" leading the charge, but duds like the turgid midtempo love/breakup jam "Mirrors (Shall Be Broken)" and the Frank Turner-lite nostalgia ballad "Bloody Tears" keep things from ever truly catching fire, despite their steadfast convictions.

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