Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards - Viking (Cover Artwork)

Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards

Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards: Viking

Viking (2004)

Hellcat


2.5
With their second release, Viking, Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards return with twice the musical fury and creativity of their self-titled debut (2001) and about ten times the stupidity. While the new album, which was produced and co-written by Tim Armstrong, blasts out of your speakers with the...

With their second release, Viking, Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards return with twice the musical fury and creativity of their self-titled debut (2001) and about ten times the stupidity.

While the new album, which was produced and co-written by Tim Armstrong, blasts out of your speakers with the unbridled intensity that was missing from Rancid's latest effort, it's completely devoid of the lyrical sophistication, conscience or charm that Frederiksen's other band can showcase. Instead, we get nearly 40 minutes of Lars bragging about rolling with his crews, fucking prostitutes and underage girls, getting in fights, drinking, doing dope and brandishing weapons. And unlike the 2001 release, there doesn't seem to be a point to it. This time around, rather than lamenting about his violent and wild youth in Campbell, he's singing like he never grew up at all.

And there's not a shred of social commentary (not that anyone necessarily should be looking to the Bastards for that) or even gritty poetry to be found on this disc, like there was in some of the band's memorable songs from three years ago. Unless you count gems like, "I've done every hooker from here to Toledo," or "You broke my heart/I dug your ditch/Now I'm coming after you, you dirty bitch!/I'm gonna murder you!" (Sorry Lars, but GG did it much better).

You may catch yourself singing along to tunes like Fight, 1% and Switchblade (which features Skinhead Rob from the Transplants rapping about his arsenal of firearms and Lars singing about his trusty knife), but you'll probably feel like a moron in the process.

Even the album art is a little questionable. The insert booklet is filled with pictures of Lars posing with naked groupies in hotel rooms (plus one of S.R. with a gun in his hand and a buxom blonde stripper in his lap). And on top of it all, they had the nerve to censor it, so we don't even get a full view of Lars' orgy of misogyny. The shame!

Still, shortcomings aside, Viking isn't a horrible album. Lars is a superb punk rock guitarist, Big Jay is a damned good bassist and the Bastards serve up some great "street punk rock and roll" and even try some new things. They slow it down for a folksy "My Life to Live" (reminiscent of the Dropkick Murphys when they're trying to sound Irish) and bring in everything from violin and piano to mandolin (played by Matt Freeman) for Frederiksen to talk over on the hilariously bad ending track "The Viking".

Too bad the experimentation didn't work out. The cover of the Blasters' old-time sounding rockabilly song "Marie Marie" is well-executed but out of place, as is the recycled Rancid B-side "Little Rude Girl" (also known as "Do You Wanna Dance With Me?") and "The Viking" is downright laughable, from the starting acoustic guitar chords and Frederiksen's spoken-word intro ("Well, how do you do? My name's Lars and I'm from Campbell, Ca, but you might know that by now.") to the lame chorus ("And I know I'm married to the sea....").

Frankly, the Bastards are best this time around when they're playing so fast that you can't make out the words Lars is singing without turning to the porno mag/lyric booklet, and luckily, that's the case with about half the songs on the album. The best thing I can say about the Bastards' brand of gangsta punk is that its gratuitous sex and violence would probably offend Bill O'Reily more than any of the rhetoric on the many political albums released this year. But that can't save this disc.... All in all, it's an average release and worth a few listens, but it seems like it will grow old fast.