I don’t recall you asking, but, had you, in fact, asked, i would have gladly informed you that the Little Killers’ debut LP has been my favorite album released in the past three or four years, easily. I mean, you got these taut Telecaster wig-outs pulling the left half of your brain left, this crazy militaristic bass going DENG-DENG-DENG-DENG-DENG at skull-crushing volume pulling the right half of your brain right, and these kinky-haired, leather-lunged vocals cracking your cranium right down the center; it is difficult to listen to the album without experiencing some delightfully incapacitating manner of potentially lethal head trauma. Needless to say, the release of the follow-up album was an event fraught with high levels of both anticipation and anxiety. My first impression, after spending about ten minutes trying to get the EQ right in my car (and nearly running multiple organisms off the road) was What the FUCK is Dean DOING???I mean, after doing such a whiz-bang job producing the first album, one would think that Dean Rispler® would know that, on any given Little Killers recording, the drums are the third dog in a three-dog race. Fourth dog in a four-dog race if you count the vocals. Fifth dog in a five-dog race if you count the lyrics. And here, wayward Dean has somehow lost his mind, and mixed the drums all front and center, like he’s mixing a Dirtbombs album or something! Quick scrutiny of the liner notes indicated the problem: The record was not produced by Dean Rispler®, but by superstar producer (and Dirtbombs drummer, ahem) Jim Diamond! Now, Jim Diamond is a cool dude, and a great producer in his own right, and i’m sure Jim Diamond producing the Little Killers sounded great in theory and looked superb on paper, but the harsh reality of the matter is that THIS RECORD SOUNDS WRONG, WRONG, WRONG (note clever Fastbacks reference)! I mean, i have to really strain to pick the guitar and bass out of the echoey sonic muck here; both those instruments should be battering my external occipital protruberences like crack-addled cherry-tree-chopping hatchets in the night! I mean, fuckin’ A, the BASS keeps the time in this band, not the drums. That’s important because the guitar and the vocals often get accentuated by being a little bit behind the beat, and the drums more or less ape the guitar/vocals. Therefore, if you want the Little Killers to sound like the Dirtbombs (in an abstract sense), you gotta beef up the BASS, not the drums. So, anyway, yeah, this record fails to effectively attack me in the manner to which i have been accustomed. And while, heck yeah, there are a number of decent blasts herein, their presence is somewhat offset by a ghastly amount of slow songs, which seem to get almost unbelievably slower as they plod along. I mean, “Been So Long” starts slow, and gets markedly slower at multiple instances in the song, to the point where i find it hard to believe that anyone could have left the studio in good conscience thinking the song was anything other than godawful, which it is, blatantly. I mean, when “Annie Can You Keep a Secret”—from the “Let’s Have Some Goddamn Fun” compilation—rolls around, it doesn’t sound like that song you already know (and are sick of) off the compilation, it sounds like THE MOST BRILLIANT THING EVER. I dunno, man. I’m still a big fan and all, but, two albums in, i have yet to be shown conclusive proof that this band is anything other than a one-album affair. “A Kind of Okay One” is a more fitting album title. Better yet, “An Okay One (While Dean’s Away).” Snicker. BEST SONG: “Annie Can You Keep a Secret” BEST SONG TITLE: “Annie Can You Keep a Secret” —whoops! I guess that song’s just called “Annie” now. Okay, “Finger Pie” then. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I know both Dean and Jim.
–norb (Gern Blandsten)