Overall Score: 8/10 : 1/10 : 1/10 : 1/10 Pros: Cons:
It’s fair to say that Social Distortion have been around the blocks a few times, heck, frontman and last remaining original member Mike Ness has had his fair share of war stories over the years. The mere fact that this band are still around is testament to the will of Ness and the fact that this album is as joyful and exuberant as it is, is damn near remarkable. What Social Distortion do here though, on their 7th studio album, isn’t neck breakingly fast, it isn’t the slightest bit aggressive and it isn’t contrived or dishonest. They have the punk-esque riffs mixed with a country swagger and a catchy, melodic edge. This album won’t make you want to break stuff, it’ll rarely even put you in a head banging mood, but what SD do is play ear pleasing, colourful songs coated in a rock ‘n’ roll lovability – think Johnny Cash, with a hint of Green Day and if you like anything Volbeat have done over their career then there’s a good chance you’ll like this.
Whilst Mike Ness takes a similar approach to writing lyrics as Bruce Springsteen – he doesn’t have the allurement that the Boss has, mind you, no one does, but Ness does manage to not only capture heartfelt melodies, but he also manages to write personally emotional lyrics that clearly indicate a man who has lived a colourful, rumbustious life. These lyrics, combined with the bands signature sound of rockabilly infused country music with swagger, makes for a captivating 45 minutes of varied rock ‘n’ roll, full to the brim with catchy choruses and a heartland inspired swing. Songs like Bakersfield and Writing on the Wall bring a relaxing, joyous pace to the album whilst California Hustle and Diamond in the Rough manage to cause a near uncontrollable urge to tap ones foot.
I think it goes without saying that Social Distortion have an influential legacy behind them – inspiring bands from Volbeat to Lower Than Atlantis – but now, with the addition of ‘Hard Times…’ to their catalogue, they’ve proven that the old dog can still compete with the energetic, young puppies. If you’re one of those silly folk who think Social Distortion are merely ‘that band’ who did Story of My Life, then this new record may delight your ears with some honest, good old fashion Rock ‘N’ Roll, after all, Mike isn’t quite Mommy’s Little Monster anymore now is he?
For Fans of: Green Day, Johnny Cash and Volbeat
Album Highlights: Diamond in the Rough, Bakersfield and Still Alive