With Hate to Be Loved, River City Rebels -- who have long treaded the same water as Rancid and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones -- put their Clash loyalties on ice and look to the sound of vintage NYC punk. The less-than-subtle "subtle" style shift has a lot to do with producer Syl Sylvain -- best known for his guitar work with the legendary New York Dolls -- who gives the impressionable Rebels a new lease on life. Defying expectations on album number four, RCR don't come out of the starting gate with a riotous chant-along as they have on previous efforts, but instead offer the unguarded, mid-tempo "Hurt Like I Do." It's a brave approach that succeeds with the help of frontman Dan O'Day, who sings with a previously unheard sincerity that also finds its way to the bluesy "Die Young." It's an engaging homage to the hard living ways of rockers through the years, but soon enough the pain gives way to raw, rollicking numbers like "No Easy Way Out" and "Cloudy Times." Routinely recalling the sorely missed D Generation and Sylvain's own Dolls -- especially on the horn-peppered "Don't Mess With Cupid" -- these Rebels yell with a voracity that makes up for the fact that their sonic transition on Hate to Be Loved isn't all that original.
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AllMusic Review by John D. Luerssen