Liquor? Check. Guns? Check. Playing cards? Check. Down-on-your-luck album title? Check. Didn't think Social Distortion had a new record out? Well, you're right, they don't, it is only 2006 after all. These images belong to Texas band Born to Lose and their latest effort, Sweet Misery.
The case with most street punk albums is you get what you pay for. You know going into the record you aren't to get virtuoso musicianship, deep introspective lyrics, biting political prose, awkward time signatures or instruments you can't pronounce. This album is no exception; in fact, it is without a single exceptional quality at all. What you would hope for are fist-pumping anthems, catchy lyrics and a memorable melody or two. Sadly all you get with Sweet Misery is Born to Lose's approximations of what those things might be.
For the first three songs it is like the band got together and said "how can we avoid being completely coma inducing without putting forth any actual effort?" and they came up with the solution. They decided they would throw "whoa-oh" into the chorus of each song almost arbitrarily, and have them be devoid of real strong melody. By keeping the same pattern of repeated lines coupled with said "whoa-oa"s in each chorus, not only are they dull to begin with but extremely monotonous being clumped together. Tracks 2 and 3, "Salvation" and the title track, respectively, both start off with guitar intros that do make attempts to liven things up. Unfortunately the title song is the only one of the two that is actually rocking with slight rockabilly flair. The "whoa"s continue to plague the album for its entire duration.
Themes the band covers in their lyrics reoccur: dealing with struggle, redemption, love and friendship/brotherhood. For the most part the songs are devoid of remarkable lines, resorting to ABCD rhymes and tired clichés. Take for instance the first four lines in "Paid Up:"
You say opinions are like assholes,Sometimes clichés aren't all that harmful to the listening experience if they are delivered in convincing manner, but Chris Klinck's drunken slur is not very inspiring. When Born to Lose steps outside their lyrical paths and tries an overtly political song in "New Babylon" they are reduced to tired sloganeering.
Well everyone's so full of shit,
You say my future is the past now,
Well I won't hear a word of it
The band has a few moments on the album where everything comes together for an enjoyable listen. For instance there is the catchy dust-in-the-windish number "Place and Time" as well as the hometown pride / road story of "Along the Way" which has some nice personal touches in the lyrics. Still, two really strong songs in a 12-song album just isn't very convincing. This record seems somewhat futile, in that this year alone there was many other far superior releases in this genre of music. If you're a fan of this type of music I suggest the new Street Dogs, Ducky Boys or Angel City Outcasts albums before you check this out.