Like Hollywood’s remake-itis (the sequel to its sequel-itis), reunion-itis is all the rage in the alternative music world. Other big trends currently are garage-rock and a re-appreciation of grunge. So the time is exactly right for the return of the garage-pop stylings of The Vaselines, a major favorite of the late Kurt Cobain’s. But was there ever really a bad time for these cheeky Scots to come back? While not as time-tested (or Cobain-covered) as their original work, and they’re not exactly the most complex act in the world, The Vaselines’ Sex With an X would be welcome at any time.
Two things surprise those who don’t know The Vaselines. The first is that they don’t sound like their biggest boosters, Nirvana (QRO DVD review, including covering The Vaselines), but that fabled trio was always more diverse than is remembered (and hey, Leadbelly doesn’t sound like Nirvana either, but they covered him, too…). The second is their bawdy sense of humor live, which comes out in the title to their new record, but only can only be found sparingly on any studio record. But the garage-pop procession of singer/guitarists Eugene Kelly & Frances McKee is certainly winning, often done in a road-procession.
Despite breaking up twenty years ago, Sex With an X picks up right where The Vaselines left off (get one of their multiple complete collections to hear them way back when – QRO complete collection review). While a few tracks are relatively forgettable, The Vaselines vary it up just enough on Sex, such as Kelly & McKee’s dueling duets on "Turning It On" or "Poison Pen", or the darker, haunt-lite of "The Devil’s Inside Me" or "Whitechapel". And while the humor isn’t as much as you’d hoped on "Mouth to Mouth", and "My God’s Bigger Than Your God" is just as obvious lyrically as the title suggests, the latter has some nice twang, and the former is preceded on Sex by the out-and-out awesome "I Hate the 80’s", whose cheery garage-pop kiss-off is just as awesome as you knew it was going to be.
The Glaswegian Vaselines haven’t changed that much in their two-decade ‘hiatus’ – not that you wanted them to. They’re still/back to producing catchy garage-pop that keeps from being too pretty thanks to a sly sense of humor. Out there somewhere in the afterlife, Kurt Cobain just has to be covering "I Hate the 80’s" right now…
MP3 Stream: "I Hate the 80’s"