I’ve known the singer/guitarist of Victory And Associates, Conan Neutron, for over ten years. He used to write for my online zine and has played in bands such as Replicator and MountVicious. That being said, I do honestly believe that Victory And Associates is the best of any of the projects he’s been involved with and Better Luck Next Life is the best album he’s recorded. Of course, the band isn’t just him (he’s just the one I know). This four-piece from the Bay Area has one prior release under their belt, but this second album is much stronger. The first thing one notices is that the lead track, “We’ll Have to Be Our Own Heroes” sounds like something Torche might have written, with a plodding bass line and fierce guitars. The song then slows down but comes up with a catchy chorus the likes of which I haven’t heard in quite some time. It should be noted that while Torche sounds like an influence, the band diverges from Torche in that they aren’t nearly as heavy and Neutron’s vocals are unique. In fact, the approach he’s taken with them sounds different than any of his bands’ past albums. I can’t think of anyone to compare them to except perhaps the singer from the now defunct Baltimore band, Wilderness, but they’re one thing that attracted me to this album. While Victory And Associates aren’t a joke band (at least not that I can tell), they certainly have a sense of humor, as can be seen with the pop culture references in song titles, including Louis CK (“Everything’s Amazing (Nobody’s Happy)”) and the TV show Party Down (“‘Are We Having Fun Yet?’”) While ten songs seems a good amount of material for this sound, the forty-three minutes seems excessive. Some of the songs on here (“For Serious,” “A Cheeky Little Wish for Your Attention,” “Taste the Danger”) are really amazing in that catchy heavy indie rock way but could’ve gotten the same ideas and punch if they were shortened by a minute or two. As it stands, the sound is good but the songs need some tightening. Overall, though, I’m definitely interested in seeing where Victory And Associates go next.
–kurt (Seismic Wave, seismicwave.net)