Sunday, 9 October 2016

Destroyed - Sloppy Seconds

Provenance: I wasted a lot of time on a music forum that is nevertheless indirectly responsible for my marriage. It was also directly responsible for the purchase of this album, based solely upon the passionate advocacy of one board member (sorry, can't remember who) on a thread about greatest punk rock albums.

Review: Destroyed starts with a lengthy quote from a John Waters film which segues into a song called 'I Don't Wanna Be A Homosexual'. It sets the tone for an album whose main concerns are sex, junk food, B-movies, puking and under-age pornographic actresses. That is pulls it off with wit and panache is incredible, considering that almost every song has been fine-tooled into a laser-guided offence missile.

It's also my favourite punk rock album. Ever.

As a left-leaning liberal type (NB: for my American readership, I'm essentially a communist) I feel that I should find kinship with something more progressive, or conscious, or at the very least less puerile. I've tried, believe me. But my iPod, which doubles for my car stereo, tells me that Destroyed is one of my most frequented albums, second only to Accept's Balls To The Walls. I've tried the Clash, the Pistols, X-Ray Spex, Dead Kennedys, Propagandhi and more - and enjoyed them - but nothing has come close to this puke-spattered masterpiece in terms of sheer unadulterated fun. If I'm on a long drive, Sloppy Seconds are my guys.

Why? Because it's great to be speeding along the motorway yelling to the gang vocals of 'So Fucked Up'. Or just waiting for the payoff line about masturbation in 'Runnin' From The CIA'. Even the two covers on my version - John Denver's 'Leavin' On A Jet Plane' and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's 'The Candy Man' are brilliant shout-alongs. As an added bonus, 'Janie Is A Nazi' is easily my favourite rock song that references National Socialism (it's a short list, but it managed to knock 'Chain Lightning' by Steely Dan off top spot (which is definitely about the Nuremburg rallies, screw any other interpretation)).

Sloppy Seconds do two very simple things very well on Destroyed - marry clever, funny lyrics to instantly hummable melodies. That they achieve the philosopher's stone of pop songwriting on practically every cut is remarkable. And it's not all nihilistic stoopidity; both 'Black Roses' (about abortion) and 'Veronica' (suicide) are surprisingly plaintive, and the latter reveals a degree of pathos and vulnerability not found elsewhere on the album.

The other songs that stem from a wellspring of spite are also interesting - 'Germany' is a bizarre, hilarious revenge fantasy, 'Blackmail' is a decidedly un-PC litany of misdeeds and 'If I Had A Woman' is the snotty cousin to Ian Dury and the Blockheads' splenetic 'If I Was With A Woman'. Incidentally, I don't think either song serves to do anything other than highlight the inadequacy and fragility of male identity, both being so nastily misogynistic in tone that only the most demented Men's Rights Activists could approve.

However, if forced to sum up Destroyed in one word, I'd have to return to a word used earlier on: fun. Every trick bubbles with a lusty vim and gusto, each new depravity or excess gleefully delineated by B.A. (vocalist, credited as 'yells' on the liner notes) over buzzsaw bubblegum guitar (played by the magnificently monikered Ace Hardwhere?). To give you an impression of how addictive and infectious it is, Destroyed is one of the very few albums I can hit replay from the beginning as soon as it's finished.

Probably the most perfect distillation of puerility I've heard on record, and all the better for it. If you agree with me life can all too often resemble a verse from Supertramp's 'The Logical Song', too po-faced and serious by half, then this is your doctor feelgood. You can't convince me that shouting along with 'to stop this pandemonium / We're gonna blow 'em up with sodium' (surf-punk ghoulfest 'The Horror Of Party Beach') while careering down the M27 isn't going to be the highlight of my day, or yours for that matter.

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