I learned a long time ago that large corporations often make decisions that perplex and worry onlookers. Whether it be allowing the boss’s son-in-law to run the company or deciding to offload a bunch of perfectly good merchandise below cost, these maneuvers belong to the “ends justify the means” way of thinking. What does this have to do with a Butch Walker album? Read on.
Thanks to reverb-drenched handclaps, acoustic-guitar doubling, and incessant tambourine-shaking, “Hot Girls in Good Moods” is an overt (and slightly embarrassing) ode to Marc Bolan’s work in T.Rex. Not content to let just the arrangement appear cribbed, Walker borrows Bolan’s stuttered delivery for the song’s chorus. Later on (“Too Famous to Get Fully Dressed”), Walker cops Bolan’s trick of reinforcing a melody by using a chorus of females to sing a descending set of tones (whereas Bolan favored an ascending series in “The Slider”).
“Bethamphetamine (Pretty Pretty)” is Walker’s requisite hard-luck tale about a drug-addled and over-sexed cutie with a heart of gold — see “Diary of a San Fernando Sexx Star” from his 2002 solo release for more of the same. The song’s most memorable lyric (from its chorus) is notable only for Walker’s ridiculous confabulation — “Yeah, you’re real pretty pretty/ You’re pretty strung out for a girl.” As for Walker’s ceaseless mentioning of hard drugs, I must say … the lady doth protest too much. We get it … you like cocaine, or at least you want us to think you do. You’re fast approaching Buckcherry territory with all this talk of snorting, Mr. Walker.
I am leery of singers who plead with the soundman for more reverb like it’s the cure to some terminal illness — they should be so lucky to have weak pipes syndrome considered a serious ailment. Unless Walker was trying to introduce some sort of nautical theme to “We’re All Going Down,” his attempts to flesh out his crooning with studio wizardry is a dismal failure. An unbiased interloper would have probably nixed the song, but alas, Walker decided to the produce the album with his bandmates: “What do you think, Guy-I-Could-Easily-Replace?”
And from there, Walker decides to spin the genre wheel as he drifts from adult contemporary to ’70s country. Needless to say, this lends a haphazard feeling to the album’s latter half. With “Dominoes,” Walker showcases his willingness to step on Diane Warren’s toes and write a well-crafted piano ballad. Sadly, Walker is the wrong man for the job of actually singing it. What follows is Walker’s forgettable attempt at jittery indie rock a la Hot Hot Heat (“Paid to Get Excited”). Equally as skip-worthy is “Song Without a Chorus.” At least S.O.D. had the sense to include us in the joke with “The Song That Don’t Go Fast” — Walker’s song is just as uneventful as the title suggests. He further indulges in the singer-songwriter tendencies he displayed after the dismal performance of his electrified solo work on the pompously titled, “This Is the Sweetest Little Song.” Walker’s “When Canyons Ruled the City” closes the album in an equally unimpressive fashion.
Although this may seem of little importance to most, this is Walker’s second album with Epic, following his litigious departure from Elektra and his one-album stay at BMG. This is important to note because, although his prior album on Epic failed to go cardboard, he did write and produce hits for a multitude of artists — Lindsay Lohan, Avril Lavigne and the Donnas. I have to believe that this self-indulgent album is Epic’s attempt to pacify Walker and retain him in its songwriting stable.
“Here’s a hundred grand, Butch. Go make a record; go have fun.”
“Gee, thanks guys.”
“Next time we need a hit, you know who we’re going to call, right?”
All this soul-selling is starting to make me worry.