BELTONES: Cheap Trinkets: CD

You know it’s a good day when you’re listening to a two-year-old album by a band, thinking that they really need to release something new, and that very day, their new album arrives in the review pile. That’s what happened to me with this new Beltones. And believe me, I’m not disappointed. Cheap Trinkets brings back most of my favorite elements from the Beltones first CD – growling vocals, angry, heartbreaking songs, the sense that you’re so far gone that one more drink couldn’t hurt – but a new element has been added. While the Beltones’ sound still has its core in early Stiff Little Fingers, they’ve added a rockabilly edge to the songs. Which isn’t to say that they’ve gone rockabilly. They haven’t. They’ve just added that little bit more of a roll to their songs. The lyrics have changed somewhat, too. On their first CD, On Deaf Ears, the lyrics were jarringly personal – songs about the singer’s mother dying, songs about old friends going off in different directions, songs about being so mixed up and angry inside that you have to start drinking to keep from killing people. On this album, the lyrics have gotten less personal. There are a lot more songs about women. Still, they carry that Beltones’ edge, singing about getting in a fight that a cop breaks up (“could you take your foot off my neck for a second so I can peel my face off the ground”), or singing about losing a girlfriend (“the good lord stole her away from me. I swear I’ll settle the score with that rotten motherfucker”). Even when they try a love song, it comes across like a nudge from a chainsaw (“I know a lot of things like this are better left unsaid, but your kisses taste better than a kick in the head”). I’ll be honest. I can’t get enough of this album right now. I’m listening to it every day and have to keep myself from listening to it more than that. And I can’t wait to see them live again, especially now that they know enough songs to play for longer than twenty minutes.

 –sean (TKO)