Louis XIV

Slick Dogs and Ponies

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Louis XIV's first album was a sleazy, breezy dose of AC/DC-inspired rawk & roll that put over its swagger with a cheesy wink and a playfully sexy bump and grind. It was the kind of record Brian Johnston might put on when he's sitting down at home to relax; totally silly and a lot of fun. Their second album Slick Dogs and Ponies is a decidedly darker effort with a greasy strand of evil congealing right below the surface. The sound of the album is much fuller and less punchy, songs are weighted down by gloomy strings, vocals are framed by vocal choirs, and the raunchy guitars that propelled the first album are pushed to the background. It's a more mature and substantial sound but the record lacks the snap, bounce, and goofiness that made Best Little Secrets Are Kept a success. The lyrics are less fun, too, to put it mildly. The duo of Jason Hill and Brian Karscig seem wasted and defeated by drugs, sex, and life in general, and all the humor and silliness they previously displayed have been completed erased. The songs tell tales of modern life gone wrong, derailed by sordid sex, drug use, and all sorts of unpleasantness. "Stalker" is grimy and might leave you wanting a shower, or at least a quick spin of a Donovan record, to make you feel clean again. "Hopesick" is a the kind of weary, beaten ballad you'd expect from an arena rock band on their seventh album; it sounds tattered and desperate, like they can barely even function as a band. The moments of rocked-out swagger are fleeting and ultimately drowned out by a musical and lyrical heaviness that turns the album into a real downer. Of course, there's no reason a band can't make a depressing and bleak album if they want to. The real problem is that Louis XIV were damn good at being air headed and sleazy. They aren't very good or convincing as desperate and strung-out rock & roll casualties.

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