That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even a band may die… but not this band, and not today. For this is the era where bands do not go gentle into that good night (or if they do, they come back pretty quickly the next morning, handsome smiles flashing an unsaid apology as if to say “nothing happened here”). So here Backyard Babies stand before us, six-strings in hand, with a new selection of their trademark Hanoi Rocks meets The Wildhearts meets Alice Cooper glam punk tunes on their new album, Four By Four (Gain Music).
It was eighteen years ago that Backyard Babies burst onto the scene, heading a Scandinavian raucous of bands that included The Hellacopters and Hardcore Superstar with bold, bright punked up rock music that stuck two fingers and a stacked knee high boot into the groin of grunge, bringing sleaze and pizzazz back to a table that was wringing wet with the limp celery, hummus and self-loathing of a 90’s music scene that celebrated introspection and mumbling. 1997’s Total 13 (Scooch Pooch) saw the Babies ‘Bombed’ (out of their minds) with boots stuck with glue (yep…) and set to take over the world.
And yet it didn’t quite happen. Moderate success came their way, though in 2004 it seemed like they’d cracked it with the stomping Stockholm Syndrome (RCA) led by Guitar Hero playable track the mighty ‘Minus Celcius’, a career high grandstand tune if ever there was one. The world may be an oyster, but oysters don’t always contain pearls, and two subsequent uneventful albums passed by until in 2009 the Babies released a compilation album that was said to mark the passing of the band.
The band have been keen to stress Four By Four is not a comeback album, more a picking things up from where they left them, and all the expected sounds and styles are in place. Nicke Borg’s distinctive voice leads the way, with Dregen ripping jacked up glam rock from his guitar, but try as they might it’s all a bit flat, and all a bit pub rock. Some good tunes go by – lead off single ‘Th1rteen or Nothing’ is a stomper – but the core of the album is filled with wistful (wasteful) numbers, as the duller tempo of tunes like ‘Mirrors (Shall Be Broken)’ choke the remnants of life. It’s not bad, but in the end, you’re left with the feeling that whatever it was that used to make these guys spark no longer sizzles but sputters.