Double The Noise
I'm always a little wary of best of albums; they tend to contain the band's best and brightest singles, but lack in that soothing filler material that truly makes an album a work of art. Although Backyard Babies have been around since 1989, they're relatively unknown over here, which makes the best of concept all the more intriguing.
Opener 'Brand New Hate' is unfortunately a pretty conventional poppy rock tune that could be sung by any teenage contingent, the press release's promise of punk/glam seem a little distant already. 'U.F.O Romeo' has more of a snarling line of punk vitriol running through it as the vocals almost spit out leather and studs, the guitar solos are full of spontaneous sounding string fiddling that creates a wave of squealing sound. 'Highlights' is the first song that really makes the grade in terms of classic, powerful rock, it could easily be a driving Motley Crue tune but with far superior melodic guitar work that gets under the skin not just because it's wild and hurts our ears, but because it's well played and choreographed and evidently comes from an experienced, very tight band.
'A Song For The Outcast' oozes big, ballsy rock behind its speedy onslaught of vocals, it does have a little hint of Iggy Pop and The Stooges about it, which is certainly no bad thing, and Backyard Babies certainly have some impressive influences, but perhaps wear them on their sleeve a little too much. 'Minus Celsius' coming from the group's last album 'Stockholm Syndrome' provides slicing, lamenting guitars, pounding percussion and seductive vocals that are the epitome of classic rock dissatisfaction. With this amount of searing rock riffage burning in their souls, you'd never guess Backyard Babies were Swedish, perhaps they should be applauded all the more given the current crop of rather more indie exports from their homeland.
'The Clash', well yes, it does have the power and malaise of the mighty band of the same name I suppose, and it's certainly a solid tune but thankfully it's far more hair metal than punk. 'Colours' takes a break from the heady hard hitting riffs and adds a little touch of vibrant melody to this bitter, more thoughtful but equally powerful tune.
In comparison 'Friends' is an incredibly simple sounding merry little punk tune with jerky guitars and chorus if multiple brash sounding vocals.
Although 'Tinnitus' fuses 3 albums and there is some variation in sound, for example between the slightly school boy punk of 'Brand New Hate' and gritty rawness of 'Make Me Madman' from the band's first album and the sleek, aural seduction of 'Minus Celsius', it's a comprehensive and exciting collection of the band's clearly impressive gutsy rock.
'Tinnitus' is already out in the US, but we Brits have the privilege of being able to purchase the two disc set with 'Live in Paris' included. Live, Backyard Babies' sound is even more compelling and even tunes that grated a little on my nerves with their overly buoyant punk on 'Tinnitus', such as 'Look At You' have extra levels and interest because of the spontaneous and vigorous style the band clearly bring onstage. There are also some bright additions that weren't on the album, such as 'Payback', which certainly stirs the crowd up enough to be a firm favourite.
The show seems to be structured so most of the frenetic punk numbers come first, unfortunately if these aren't the songs that you really appreciate the most, you may get bored waiting for the classy classic rock tunes to come on. But when they do finally appear, songs like 'A Song For The Outcast' and 'The Clash' really resonate and brim with frantic energy and 'Minus Celsius' is certainly worthy of closing a great live album that really captures the band's lively charisma.
This double disc set certainly show us that if you can catch them live, Backyard Babies wouldn't let you stand still for long with their frenetic, addictive sound that varies so much.