When I'm President

Ian Hunter & the Rant Band

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When I'm President Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Don't read too much into the release of When I'm President just weeks prior to the 2012 U.S. Presidential election. This is by no means a protest record. Ian Hunter isn't nearly as angry as he was back in 2007, when he released the savagely funny Shrunken Heads, nor is he as reflective as he was on 2009's Man Overboard. Perhaps inspired by the brief but glorious reunion of Mott the Hoople, Hunter indulges in good old-fashioned noise, grinding out three-chord boogies and occasionally slipping into a sweet reverie, the slower tunes letting the faster ones kick a bit harder. Backed once again by the Rant Band, the music is loose and earthy, easily swinging into a snippet of gospel at the end of "Wild Bunch" or quoting Jerry Lee Lewis on "What For," and it's a pure pleasure to hear them play whether they're luxuriating in a ballad or updating Chuck Berry, but once again, the key to When I'm President is Hunter's sharp, incisive songwriting. He may not go broad, but he does go deep, finding new twists within his sonic signatures and writing lyrics that cut to the quick. As always in Hunter's third act, there's an acknowledgment of his advancing age but he never dwells on it, never spends time making When I'm President into a last testament. It's a snapshot of where he is, and he's in a wickedly joyous mood.

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