Nick Curran And The Lowlifes – [Album]

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Ancient Chinese wisdom says that if one travels long enough and far enough, the traveler will eventuall meet himself in the future. Could the same be true of institutions? To date, rock n' roll has been an institution for fifty-nine years (almost to the day – if one assumes that “Rocket 88” was the first rock song – given it was first recorded by Ike Turner in the first week of March, 1951) and has been from Earth to Hell to the stars and back several times over. Needless to say, it has been well-traveled but, on Nick Curran's newest album, listeners are given cause to believe that the old wisdom holds water; the form of Reform School Girl could very easily be called “The Return Of The Rock.”

Now let's be clear here – such a bold statement is not made to imply that rock as a genre has been cast anew in the fourteen tracks that comprise this record. Nick Curran is not reinventing the wheel on Reform School Girl. Rather, from the opening wail of “Tough Lover,” the rock's return is just that – having run a hard road, the original spirit of rock n' roll comes home to roost here with every nick, ding and scar it has picked up in its path in plain view.

And you know what? That's better than fine – chicks dig scars.

After “Tough Lover” gets listeners' juices flowing with that mood of old made new (check out the hot-rodded Chuck Berry line, “She can do anything that she wants to do/step on Jesse James' blue suede shoes”), Curran keep the adrenaline up  through the tight rockabilly of “Real Rock Party” (which borrows its drum hook from Gary Glitter), the title track (lifts the drums from The Ronettes' “Be My Baby”) before tripping into the cemetery with “Kill My Baby,” “Psycho” and “Sheena's Back” for some good corpse lovin' with a psychobilly score. In each case, no matter which angle Curran takes, the rock never sounds new (the production is done such that the album comes off like the great, lost classic of the 1950s), but asserts an exciting stance as a new record because the lyrical themes are unmistakably post-modern. The lyrical ideas (particularly in the middle of the album) are decidedly very new, but the music and production of it is torn straight from the drive-in rockabilly era – further fueling the 'rock has returned, renewed' argument.

Reforn School Girl stays stuck on that vibe as “Lusty L'il Lucy” stays locked into the same musical place but ditches the chased homecoming queen for a girl that writes her own name on the bathroom wall and then brushes off a girl that's just like her in “Filthy” and closes out the show with a fantastic hot rod hootenanny in the aptly-entitled “Rocker.” At no point do the singer or the image he's cast and inadvertently destroy the illusion of the hot and ready sound returned here, and that actually the aspect of the record that ends up being the most captivating; because Reform School Girl never leaves a gaffe in the continuity of the songs, listeners find themselves falling into and held by it because there's no way out save the close of the record after “Rocker.” In that way, Nick Curran has created something remarkable in Reform School Girl; each song is certainly a genre composition, but so infectious that listeners don't get bored with it.



Nick Curran and The Lowlifes – “Sheena's Back” – Reform School Girl


Reform School Girl
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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