Review: Mötley Crüe - Saints of Los Angeles
Label: Motley Records
Released: June 24, 2008
What should we expect from Mötley Crüe at this point? They're 25 years past their prime and they certainly didn't continue to release material worthy of their recent resurgence over the years. On the other hand, they did manage to bounce back once and make a decent album with 1989's Dr Feelgood after a pair of stinkers (despite those albums' fantastic commercial success). The recent Carnival of Sins live album showed that they had enough life to put together an entertaining live set, but there they thrived on old material. At this point, Saints of Los Angeles is a crap shoot. It could go either way.
The reality is that it goes both ways. While the Crüe never even comes close to their prime, they do manage to come pretty close to their late 80s second wind at times. Maybe I'm just grateful that "Welcome to the Machine" isn't a Pink Floyd cover, but it's the first time on the album that I think the band sounds energized. Following it up with "Just Another Psycho" isn't a bad one-two punch and for a few minutes, the album really seems to be on track. They release that energy on a few tracks down the back stretch, but none more so than the closer, "Goin' Out Swingin'," which comes close to the calculated energy of "Dr Feelgood" or "Kickstart My Heart." Most of the time though, the songs just never get a good head of steam to give the impression at least that the album matters to the band. Vince Neil is particularly guilty as his voice is erratic at best. He does sound good at times, but just as often, his voice is thin and hollow.
They do attempt to incorporate some of the things that have happened since they were a good band, but the updated sound does them no favors. "Mutherfucker of the Year," for instance, incorporates a lot of the electronic effects that have been adopted by more recent rock and metal bands, but it's kludgey and unnatural. Creatively, there's simply not much that works, leaving the Crüe at their best when trying to recreate the past.
Lyrically, songs like "Chicks=Trouble" find the band at the very pinnacle of their stupidity while the we-have-to-fight-our-way-to-the-top theme of "What's It Gonna Take" couldn't even be believed by the most naive fan. While the reminiscences of "Down at the Whiskey" may have some roots in the truth, it's a rosy recollection of behavior so moronic that it simply couldn't have been that good.
In the end, Saints of Los Angeles has a few moments that aren't bad for four old guys, but the reality is still that they are way past their prime. When they try to update their sound, they fail, and when they try to relive their past, it's just a reminder of how much time has passed.
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