Louis XIV aren't for the faint of heart -- more like for the filthy of heart and dirty of mind, as they tear their way through their major-label debut, The Best Little Secrets Are Kept, like a marauding band of oversexed middle-school pirates. Indeed, main vocalist Jason Hill swaggers like a fully cocked smash-up between Bon Scott, Mick Jagger, and Bluebeard the Pirate, winking his way through the album like he was strutting down a catwalk. Brian Karscig adds suitably unhinged vocal support, taking the lead on a couple of tracks, and Hill and Karscig, with the help of drummer Mark Anders Maigaard, concoct a sound that is both tighter than your jeans after Thanksgiving dinner and looser than the Big Bopper's long-necked goose. The Best Little Secrets Are Kept is loaded with a raft of inspired songs that burst out of your speakers like they were on fire, mixing the sparkle of the best glam rock, the low-down crunch of the best of classic rock bands like the Stones, and the direct lyrical approach of poets like David Lee Roth or the aforementioned Bon Scott. Three of the album 's songs came out on the band's 2004 EP, Illegal Tender, and they are probably the best songs here: "Finding Out True Love Is Blind" is a pounding rocker that sends nasty shout-outs to girls of every type and is really just too over the top to be offensive; "Louis XIV" is so cocky and self-important you just have to laugh; and best of all is the goofy and slightly unhinged Adam & the Ants-styled romp "Illegal Tender." It's the kind of song that will have you strutting around the room looking for a mirror to practice your tough guy or gal sneer before breaking out in giggles. The rest of the songs don't show much of a letdown with tunes like the handclap-driven, rifftastic "Paper Doll"; "Hey Teacher," which shows off some piercing falsettos; and "A Letter to Dominique," which is a note-perfect T. Rex boost complete with operatic backing vocals and funky handclaps, made the band's own with suitably dirty (without the sweet) lyrics. The last song on the record, "Ball of Twine," even displays some sincerity, as Hill declares his love of classic rock with the lyrics "God save the Kinks and the music from the Big Pinks." Somehow after all the insane swagger that precedes it, the sentiment is downright moving. Some people may find the band's mix of near-obscene lyrics, primal rock sound, and overtly sexual imagery somewhat offensive. To that one can only reply, as Nigel Tufnel did when Spinal Tap's morals (and the cover of Smell the Glove) were impugned: "Well so what? What's wrong with being sexy?" Or as Louis XIV say in "Paper Doll," "If you want clean fun, go buy a kite." Conversely, if you want some rock & roll so tough and dirty that it would make Brian Johnson blush, Louis XIV just might be your band and their album might be your best kept little secret.
The Best Little Secrets Are Kept
(LP - Music On Vinyl #MOVLP 2876C)