Kung Fu 2021
American punk lynchpins roam nocturnal streets in search of kindred spirits and get lost in romantic notions.
There ain’t no rest for Dave Smalley who veered away from DOWN BY LAW to dabble in less politically charged arts with THE BANDOLEROS and DON’T SLEEP only to take up guitar again and get back to the motherlode to mine – or, rather, undermine – its modus operandi by turning totally lyrical. No, the quartet still have the edge and they still are bent on locating a small person in a stranger land to stand alongside lonesome folks and muster strength to soldier on together, yet the veterans seem much more open to admitting their vulnerability now. This is where the conceptual pull of “Lonely Town” lies.
Old punks aren’t afraid to admit they’re not invincible anymore, the album’s title track – propelled by a one-note-riff, if a bit aloof – and highly melodic “Anthem” exposing the protagonist’s anguish and anger in no uncertain terms, while “Soars” pretends to be a power ballad, and the record’s finale, a roots-revealing, groovy cover of “My Reservation’s Been Confirmed” from HERMAN’S HERMITS, offers an escape route. But, of course, there’s a lot of maverick pride in “Black Sheep” and of swagger in the singalong likes of “Denim & Leather” – the disc’s frenetic tone setter stating, “Metal, hardcore: that’s our sound” – whereas “Darkest Sun” bristles with contagious aggro and “Steal The Night” lets vocal harmonies ooze lovesickness, as John DiMambro’s four strings punctuate the sweet pain and Sam Williams’ licks rage on.
“We’ve got such a lot of living to do!” proclaim the ensemble on this album and propose an invigorating soundtrack to the future: in the end, one has to feel lonely sometime to value the company.