The name of Pink Grease's debut album, This Is for Real, must surely be another tongue-in-cheek gesture from this cheeky band; its Manic Street Preachers-like earnestness is decidedly at odds with the group's trashy aesthetic. However, the band are in earnest about making the campiest, neon-brightest, most entertaining music they can, and for the most part they succeed. On This Is for Real, Pink Grease go for a more rock-based sound than they did on singles and EPs like All Over You, which provided the missing link between the electro-rock weirdness of fellow Sheffield citizens like Add N to (X) and Fat Truckers and the old-school glam, punk, and shockabilly that also linked them loosely with the garage rock revival. For fans of the band's older material, the downplaying of Pink Grease's synth buggery is a bit of a disappointment; even though it wasn't the key to their sound, it did add a distinctive edge to their music. This Is for Real's more polished production is another minor drawback, and is especially noticeable on the re-recorded version of "The Nasty Show," which sounds sanitized compared to the crazed debauchery of the All Over You version. And while it's admirable that This Is for Real features all-new material, aside from "The Nasty Show" and gloriously cheesy power ballad "Into My Heart" (which was made available previously as a Valentine's Day-only download on Pink Grease's website), some of the new songs just aren't as interesting as the tracks on their singles and EPs. All nitpicking aside, This Is for Real is full of campy fun that takes the best from the Damned, Cramps, Stooges, New York Dolls, Bowie, and other demented, art-damaged types. The album gets off to a strong start with the glam garage-a-billy rave-up "Remember Forever"; the sexy but uptight grind of "Fever" and "The Pink G.R. Ease" (over the course of the album, the band name-checks itself as much as your average rapper or Jon Spencer Blues Explosion do), which features sleazy brass and lyrics that might as well be the band's manifesto: "Freaky teenagers, c'mon fight the power!" And despite the few tracks that fizzle, This Is for Real also shows that Pink Grease can deliver some surprises: "Wind Up Bird" is a bittersweet, jangly piece of nihilistic pop with theremin-like synths, while the similarly poppy and downbeat breakup song "Peaches" sounds like some lost Ramones song played at half speed. Even if it's not quite as strong a debut album as Pink Grease's prior work suggested it might be, This Is for Real really does have a lot of hedonistic, cleverly mindless kicks to offer.
This Is for Real Review
by Heather Phares
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