There won’t be many sharper, more energetic guitar records in 2009.
Jaime Gill 2009
In the UK, The Von Bondies are best known for lead singer Jason Stollsteimer being punched by Jack White, though they deserved to be known for C’mon C’mon, the punchy, furious single they released at the same time. Sadly, if the band were hoping third album Love Hate And Then There’s You would salvage their reputation, its muted, low-key release will have proved disappointing, particularly as it’s their best album.
From the moment the opening This Is Our Perfect Crime careens into view, borne aloft on clattering percussion and a warped, Pixies-aping guitar, Love Hate And Then There’s You bristles with energy and hooks, helped out by a gleaming production job and some formidably tight playing. Not every song works – the sneering, repetitive Shut Your Mouth somehow wears out its welcome in just over two minutes, and the single Pale Bride lacks a killer melody – but the majority do.
So Only To Haunt You boasts a galloping, spaghetti western pace and an impassioned chorus, while Accidents Will Happen has the glam sheen and springy guitars of Supergrass at the top of their game. I Don’t Wanna and The Chancer are also shamelessly poppy, with sweet, surging guitars and choruses that sink their hooks into you fast.
It’s true that the hyperactive pacing and pop-punk sound can be unvaried, leaving the songs on the first half of the album occasionally blurring into each other. However, even this is made good towards the end, with Earthquake’s needling riff and swaggering melody, and the moody, eighties-tinged “Modern Saints”, which somehow manages to fuse something impressive from discarded pieces of U2, the Pixies and Depeche Mode.
It seems possible that the Von Bondies have left it too long to capitalise on their brief moment of fame, with the four years since their last album an eternity in hipster new wave. That would be an injustice; there won’t be many sharper, more energetic guitar records in 2009. But then, Stollsteimer may be used to injustice by now.