Like its predecessor (One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This), the second album by the post-reformation New York Dolls in large respects misses the point of the band. With Todd Rundgren on production duties, their debut LP was a masterstroke in electrifying proto punk. Even with him back at the helm, their sound now feels faded and clinical. But for the two remaining original members it certainly is a good payback for the years of underground sales and popular cover versions but no paycheques.
Whilst this album is unquestionably Dolls, with David Johansen’s sneer and Sylvain Sylvain’s rolling riffs all over it, it is ultimately unoriginal. The Dolls’ genius lay in their unadulterated vigour. This album contains some very tight, exciting tunes, but less belief and immediacy than its trailblazing forerunners. The title track, which opens the album, could have come from Michael Monroe’s repertoire; the former frontman of Hanoi Rocks was himself a Dolls imitator. One of the strongest tracks on the album, a version of the classic -Trash’ performed in a reggae/lounge style, recalls Johansen’s 1980’s alter ego, Buster Poindexter.
Many of the moments of glory are moments of past glory. -Muddy Bones’ sounds like a clone of 1974’s -Puss ‘n Boots’. Cause I Sez So may be a pleasure for old fans, as the band are using the same recipe that was exhilarating 35 years ago, but it has now become formulaic. That said, the sentiment of -Temptation to Exist’ is stimulating, (‘Dancing with you around the room’¦Stripped of faÃ§ade and costume’) and the driving guitar of -Exorcism Of Despair’ is exhilarating.
In 2006, for the first album since reforming they claimed they were -just trying to make the most of a bad situation’, so perhaps no apology is due. The tracks should be entertaining live, but ultimately this album seems to cash in on a band who are resting on their laurels.