As someone who's found himself inexplicably captivated by one of Towers of London's infamous live performances, I was fully prepared, critical mass be damned, to love the band's debut, Blood Sweat & Towers. But after listening to the first half of the album, it became clear to me that Blood Sweat & Towers does not rock. After listening to the second half of Blood Sweat & Towers, it became clear to me that Towers of London should not be allowed to release an album of recorded music ever again.
Towers of London, formerly known as the Tourettes, is a somewhat misguided attempt to reclaim every characteristic -- swagger, charisma, energy -- that rock music has allegedly lost since the original Guns 'n' Roses lineup called it a day. The members of Towers of London scrawl "graffiti" on their beaters, buy Aqua Net by the barrel, and fight anyone willing to take them on; it's possible that they're the most unlikable people on the planet. During their live shows -- which often end with at least one member of the band being led off in handcuffs -- they throw stuff around, antagonize the audience (usually with flying spittle), and throw mic stands at girls. While this irritates nearly everyone in attendance, it also ensures that every show is, in a sense, a success. Afterward, as everyone is filing out of the club, the only band on everyone's lips -- regardless of how many took the stage over the course of the night -- is Towers of London. Like it or not, they've won.
Containing not so much actual "songs" as a punk-like substance, Blood Sweat & Towers does much to spoil, if not invalidate, the Towers of London live experience. Strip away the mayhem and the spectacle and what you're left with is four guys in drainpipe jeans who make the Donnas look like they have real talent. There are too many missteps here to document, but the most egregious of the bunch is "Kill the Pop Scene," which, in its railings against all music that is contrived, manufactured and unoriginal, seems to indict the very band that wrote it. There's also "Good Times," which, given its lyrical content ("You came along and then I led you astray/ You took my heart and then you threw it away/ Such a hard time/ Now I want a good time"), seems better suited for a Kelly Clarkson album than a punk record. As if that weren't enough, there's "King," the album's "showstopper," which cops a Be Here Now string section so ridiculous that I nearly doubled over with laughter when I heard it.
Blood Sweat & Towers features more lowlights than the average Knicks game, but its true crime is containing a hubristic fifteen tracks. A little trash can constitute a guilty pleasure, but a lot of trash is, well, just a big pile of garbage. However, it would be dishonest not to admit that there are a few moments on Blood Sweat & Towers that might give a person cause (assuming this person has worked through at least two-thirds of a six pack) to make metal's two-fingered gesture. The Wayne's World guitars and lyrical mantra of opener "I'm a Rat" are actually kind of fun, the acoustic version of "Fuck It Up" seems to feature something close to a sense of humor, and it's possible that "Air Guitar" isn't the worst song I've ever heard in my life.
The formula that worked for the Darkness (for a while, at least) will never work for Towers of London because, as Blood Sweat & Towers makes abundantly clear, the band members simply don't have the chops to write a song like "I Believe in a Thing Called Love."
Towers of London's live shows will keep it in the pages of NME for another year or two, but the band has officially been exposed. It's only a matter of time before no one even cares enough to be annoyed by the guys in Towers of London, and the day they're not despised is the day they disappear.
Label: http://www.tvtrecords.com/Stream Blood Sweat & Towers: http://www.thetowersoflondonus.com/
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