Aug 15, 2006

Man, I hate using the word “sophisticated,” because it makes it sound like a band’s tying sweaters over their shoulders and getting memberships to country clubs. But, chances are, you can play the Filthy Thieving Bastards in “mixed company” (co-workers, awkward family reunions, that sort of thing) since the songs are pleasant and familiar sounding (assuming you’re familiar with early Who, languid and more swaying Pogues numbers, Kinks, and Donovan). But, with a little time with a social microscope, drinking, and reading along, the lyrics are the killing floor of this album. Three of four of these guys are in the Swingin’ Utters, which often relies on well-played slashing to get the point across. The Bastards deal more in songs that sound like butterflies flapping, but they’re singing about the murder of everyday existence. “The Back of His Hand” deals with spousal abuse, the “Drug Lords of the Avenues” revels in “new ways to mix anything with rum,” “Needs No Retrieve” discloses, “now if you walk through the door, and you see me on the floor, you are home.” Dark stuff that’s easy to sing along to and hard to forget. I’m beginning to believe the trio of Johnny, Darius, and Spike—all together—are current punk’s answer to Johnny Cash. Not a light claim. Let this sneak up on you like a sweet-smelling and treacherous mold. Just give it time to take hold.

 –todd (BYO)