Modern Vintage

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It's hard not to think that the timing of Sixx: A.M.'s third album indicates something about leader Nikki Sixx's state of mind. Released in the thick of Mötley Crüe's much ballyhooed farewell tour, Modern Vintage looks toward the past but, unlike Sixx's main group, it chooses not to live there. The "Modern" in the title means something: there are slight electronic flourishes, apparent both in the rhythms and the accents, there's an acknowledgment that disco-rock is now part of the hard rock fabric ("Miracle" is danceable in a way the Crüe or any other Sixx project never was), there's a slight postmodern flair in how the group mashes up all the classic rock styles -- glam, Queen pomp, arena anthems, Sunset Strip sleaze, post-grunge psychedelia -- into an invigorating pulp. That palpable energy is another distinguishing characteristic of Modern Vintage. Where previously Sixx: A.M. dwelled on intense emotional bloodletting -- this is a band, after all, that debuted with a companion soundtrack to its leader's memoir The Heroin Diaries -- this is a joyful, forward-looking rock record, the most fun Sixx has been on record since the heyday of Dr. Feelgood. The versatility of Modern Vintage -- it's undeniably anchored in classic hard rock sounds but feels restless in its cage -- is also a tip-off that Nikki Sixx is now pouring his creative energies into this band, not Mötley Crüe. While his old band is taking a farewell bow, his new band sounds as if it's just getting started, and that kinetic crack is why Modern Vintage packs a real kick.

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