Brit progenitors of sonic disturbance show the world they still care – or give a shit, if you like – and they still bet on optimistic outcome of current troubles.
Punk rock may have faded in and out of public favor but one of the genre’s originators, THE VIBRATORS, never disappeared from the face of the earth. Although the team’s name doesn’t defy societal moral anymore, the veterans decided to challenge their age now and, having regrouped recently to get back to the classic line-up, they reunited with a legend who helped kickstart it all in 1976. Then, almost four and a half decades ago, the quartet – singing guitarist Knox, six-stringer John Ellis, bassist Pat Collier and drummer Eddie, the keeper of the flame through the years – backed Chris Spedding both on-stage and in the studio, playing on his “Pogo Dancing” single, and now the axeman co-stars on his friends’ best album of this millennium.
There’s merciless merriment in this devil’s dozen cuts which ooze youthful energy in nigh-on lethal doses, but also ground the groove, from the contagious cosmic chug of the record’s title track onward, with the gravity that only decades of earthly existence can produce. Memorable riffs and acidic licks in abundance, social issues are attacked throughout the songs cycle, so the listener will emerge out its other end – after “This Is The Way” has dissolved the mix of rumble and softness in silence – biting off choice refrains such as one of “Jesus Stole My Little Dog” where momentum is gained as the number progresses, or of the bluesy “Platinum Dress” where slider rolls rock supreme.
Perhaps, the repetitive line of “Follow Your Destiny” is a tad didactic – only the heavy beat and solo spots from every band member turn the initial perception on its ugly head, while the otherwise dry “Made In Heaven” thrives on an almost celestial twang ‘n’ spank, and the folk-informed “Passing Of Days” offers a murky perspective on all things temporal with increasingly hysterical verses and an irresistible chorus. A harder edge of “Turn The Pages” which harks back to the ’60s innocence may be smoothed by the ensemble’s warm delivery, yet the harmonies of “Big Black Sea” are as honeyed as to challenge the entire punk canon, the clever use of stereo panorama adding an alluring aural detail here and there – especially when fretboard flurries get crossed to breathe fire into the ether.
This flame must make the English collective’s contemporary followers blush from shame of lacking it: “Mars Casino” is a master class on how vigor should be packed and shipped.