The Lords of the New Church

Is Nothing Sacred?

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The shadow of the Rolling Stones, the classic role model for bands who embrace rock's scuzzy, dangerous, vaguely satanic side, looms large over Lords of the New Church's second album. The influence of Mick Jagger on Stiv Bators' lippy, sneering delivery has never been more apparent. Brian James emulates Keith Richards' rhythm-oriented guitar parts, leaving Dave Tregunna's bass as the lead instrument. Nicky Turner may not be Charlie Watts (who is?), but he provides a dependable backbeat. Is Nothing Sacred even offers such Stones-y song titles as "Black Girl/White Girl," "Goin' Downtown," and "Partners in Crime." You'd hope this was a conscious homage, but it sounds more like the Lords were having trouble deciding on a direction and fell back on old habits. Still, if Is Nothing Sacred were a Stones album, it'd be a pretty good one, well played and entertaining throughout. "Dance with Me" -- funky, slinky, and goth-tinged with lyrics that invoke voodoo and bondage -- is one of the Lords' best songs and, coincidentally, one of their biggest hits. "Live for Today," a surprisingly straight cover of the Grass Roots classic with slick production and keyboards by Todd Rundgren, closes the album on an uplifting though incongruous note. As a follow-up to the Lords' promising debut, Is Nothing Sacred isn't a disaster, but it is a small step backward, rather than forward.

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