With some more time to think about it and some more money to spend thanks to a major label record contract, Val Emmich re-works his debut album Slow Down Kid, jettisoning four songs ("Selfish Blues," "Black It Out," "Panic Attack," "Rat Race") in favor of four newly written ones ("Medical Display," "Bury Me," "Separate Things," "The Patient Patient"), replacing a lot of drum tracks, and getting a hot remix by Tom Lord-Alge. (Since the resulting disc is less than 36 minutes long, it's hard to see why the new songs weren't just added instead of being substituted.) But the same overall style remains. Emmich is a young man with a lot of feelings to express lyrically and musically. His words are full of self-pity, with frequent references to disease, depression, and suicide, plus a heavy complement of rage about betrayal and romantic disappointment. He manages to be oddly endearing about it all, however, particularly in the humbled "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" ("I know I've been a spoiled brat, but you know I'm different now"), as well as strangely compelling in his willingness to vent his anger, notably in "Shock" when he sings, as the lyric sheet puts it, "I could punch your f***in face." (His frequent use of the "F" word does not result in a parental advisory sticker; apparently, only rap and metal acts get stickered when they curse.) What makes him endearing and compelling is not just his nakedly emotional words, however. He sings in a gruff voice occasionally reminiscent of the Cure's Robert Smith, but more forceful, and, most important, his melodic guitar rock sound is highly effective. Even in its refurbished form, Slow Down Kid is a young man's record, but it displays enough craft along with the raw talent to suggest an important career is beginning.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann