Reckless Love – Turborider

Turborider Album Cover Art

Reckless Love – Turborider
AFM Records
Release Date: 25/03/22
Running Time: 35:11
Review by Richard Iggo
5.5/10

Allow me to begin by climbing aboard my soapbox for a moment. This band is not and never has been “sleaze”, despite what their record label and elements of their wardrobe might say. Play a Reckless Love song after hearing anything from the ‘golden age’ of sleaze such as L.A. Guns’ ‘Sex Action’ and tell me they’re even close. They’re not. 

Reckless Love doesn’t even share any real link to their countrymen and massive influence on Glam / Sleaze, Hanoi Rocks, other than perhaps the possibility that as fellow Finns, they might enjoy terrible liquorice and live in darkness for half of the year. I don’t doubt that they’re fans of the 80’s L.A. rock scene, there’s plenty of evidence for that. Indeed, Olli, the band’s singer, looks how Nikki Sixx wishes Vince Neil would for the upcoming US stadium tour. However, the music Reckless Love has produced over the years lies somewhere else on the fragmented spectrum of rock and metal other than sleaze, this new album, more than ever.

Anyway, ‘old man yells at genre description’ isn’t going to get us anywhere fast is it? So let’s see how we got here.

Reckless Love’s previous albums were made up of an identikit of mid to late 80’s rock classics. Depending on how you feel about how heavily ‘influenced’ a band is, it’s either fun or an infuriating listen as you figure out where a particular song element has been borrowed from. 

Kiss, Poison, Def Leppard and Van Halen can all be heard in the band’s first three albums, watered down by a pop sensibility. But then came 2016’s “InVader”, splitting reviewers and causing a stink. The band had been talking about broadening out beyond their 80’s rock roots. And boy, did they. Featuring songs that wouldn’t have been out of place on a record by the Backstreet Boys, the album did at least deliver heavier tunes such as ‘Let’s get Cracking’, which channels Steel Panther channelling Van Halen’s “1984” era, but without the former band’s intentional comedy.

Now, in 2022 and after a long hiatus, we arrive at “Turborider”. It’s an album that sees Reckless Love embrace a direction that was perhaps foretold in 2015. Olli covered Corey Hart’s 1983 hit ‘Sunglasses At Night’, as part of supergroup The Local Band, and that song is a good indication of places the new Reckless album goes. We’re talking synths, white suits, pink neon and mirrored aviator shades. 

Ladies and gentlemen, this band has gone full Miami Vice.

Actually, they’ve gone Synthwave. The most commercially successful example of the genre would probably be ‘Blinding Lights’ by The Weeknd. In fact, play that song and ‘For The Love Of Good Times’ from the Reckless album back to back and I guarantee that in a Cola-style blind taste test, people would have no idea that the two acts have any substantial differences. 

Although the opening track ‘Turborider’ features a Halford-esque scream and twiddly guitars, it’s still very much in the Synthwave arena and wouldn’t be out of place in a dance / rhythm video game soundtrack. In fact, there’s a VR game called “Synth Riders” where this song would be very much at home. I’d be incredibly surprised if a licensing deal doesn’t happen. 

The same can be said for the third track, ‘Outrun’ (coincidentally another name for the Synthwave genre), that delivers an 80’s training montage or Saturday morning cartoon theme tune vibe. If you’re in the mood for it, it’s alright, but these songs just never quite get to the level of quality where they’re memorable or there’s any desire to listen to them again. 

And now, Ozzy fans should sit down, just in case, because track five is a cover of ‘Bark At The Moon’. It actually opens so well that you might not even realize it is a cover. Guitarist Pepe Reckless delivers a stellar Jake E. Lee impression before it all goes wrong and we hear something that sounds like a kids’ pop album, the ones that sterilize chart hits for younger ears. 

Other songs, such as ‘89 Sparkle’ are mid-paced synth-pop fare that might make for easy listening but fail to leave a good impression. It’s like candy floss: over-sweet and essentially made of nothing. And I can see the album finale ‘Prodigal Sons’ working well with the crowd that the band will play to when they support Dan Reed Network this year. It gets about 30 seconds in before becoming ‘Land of Confusion’ by Genesis if performed by Milli Vanilli. 

The guys in Reckless Love probably don’t care what I think and nor will their fans. They’ve won awards and have an audience that loves them. For people unaware of where the band is pulling their sound from, ‘Turborider’ might sound fresh and fun. I think they’re having a great time doing what they want, and I applaud that. I also have no issue with the band exploring this new direction, and they’ve been quite open about it. Evolving a band’s sound can be a very good thing, but like their earlier more rock-oriented work, what they’ve given us is a derivative pastiche of the past and the more recent Synthwave genre. It’s like a copy of a copy, where there are fleeting moments of fun and near-brilliance, but the execution of the concept as a whole just fails to ever be anything more than ‘ok’. 

Now, let me tell you about Sleaze…

‘Outrun’ Official Music Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Turborider
02. Eyes Of A Maniac 
03. Outrun 
04. Kids Of The Arcade
05. Bark At The Moon 
06. Prelude (Flight Of The Cobra) 
07. Like A Cobra 
08. For The Love Of Good Times 
09. ’89 Sparkle 
10. Future Lover Boy 
11. Prodigal Sons 

LINE-UP:
Olli Herman – Vocals
Pepe – Guitars 
Jalle Verne – Bass
Hessu Max – Drums

LINKS:

Reckless Love Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Richard Iggo and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Milquetoast – Caterwaul

Caterwaul Album Cover Art

Milquetoast – Caterwaul
Wise Blood Records
Release Date: 28/01/22
Running Time: 35:38 
Review by Richard Iggo
7.7/10


The first time the word Milquetoast made an impact on me was in 1994. Brandon Lee’s swansong movie “The Crow” hit the box office and featured a soundtrack that many continue to see as one of the best of all time. It included incredible bands and songs, one of which was ‘Milquetoast’ by Helmet, appearing as the Butch Vig remix ‘Milktoast.’

Now though, and with the correct spelling in place, it’s the name of an Indiana-based ‘Party-Sludge’ three-piece, who have just released their debut “Caterwaul” on Wise Blood records.

The link to Helmet goes beyond the shared use of a word. Helmet’s debut album, “Strap It On,” was released by the Amphetamine Reptile label, famous for its stable of Noise Rock acts including Mudhoney and Melvins, two bands who along with Dead Kennedys and Black Flag are offered by the band’s label as comparative references for Milquetoast’s sound. No pressure then!

Opening with the confident roller-coaster gallop of ‘Dead Inside,’ Ty’s vocals and guitar wail alongside Andy’s own howling roar and solid bass, both underpinned by angry staccato drumming from Nick. This is followed by ‘Recognize,’ which initially keeps up the relentless pace but loses inertia to some jarring timing diversions instead of building on a solid foundation. Maybe that’s the plan though, and for a band like this, it’s fully on-brand.

I don’t know if the Spanish language track ‘Matapacos,’ which translates as ‘Cop Killer,’ shares the same sentiments as the Body Count classic. I’m guessing it’s actually inspired by Negro Matapacos, a black dog symbolic of protests against police brutality in Chile. But I don’t speak enough Spanish to decipher the lyrics, so I am likely horribly wrong! Strictly in terms of music, though, it doesn’t feel as fleshed out as other songs here. Some elements really work but as a whole, it’s just unsatisfying.  

The opening vibrating bass strings in ‘Stoner Safari’ speak to the band’s roots. Drummer Nick said that “most folks will be able to tell that we’re a bunch of Stoner Doom Metal nerds attempting to play Punk”, but from what I’ve seen, the way the band looks is more indicative of that than their sound. This song also offers an opportunity to experience the Milquetoast sense of humour, something that’s sprinkled liberally throughout the record.

Album highlight ‘Step Off’ is where the Mudhoney comparison shines brightest, with more than a hint of ‘Touch Me, I’m Sick’ audible. The Surf-Rock riff of ‘Space Force’ rolls into ‘Fake News Blues,’ expressing Punk frustration with the ongoing battle of opinion versus fact, before we hit ‘Wall,’ another album highlight. This song makes me question the Dead Kennedys comparison, at least in terms of sound because they’re far closer to the fantastic Oregon Punks Poison Idea, and this spookily ties the band back to The Crow soundtrack once again, which features a Pantera cover of ‘The Badge’.

The album finale ‘Forgotten Death’ flips between Proto Goth vocals of a tuneless Nick Cave and jangling guitars into rhythmic Noise Rock and back again, requiring effort to appreciate, but proving rewarding after several listens. It’s not the song I would have ended the album on, as it’s a bit of a downer, which is somewhat at odds with a band that seems to have a hell of a lot of fun with what it’s doing. 

So, in the end, did Milquetoast rise to meet the lofty comparisons that their label set up for them?

While “Caterwaul” would not be out of place as an Amphetamine Reptile labelmate to some of the bands Milquetoast is compared to, there’s a little way to go before they’d stand alongside them as peers. There are some really enjoyable songs and moments here, but they simply don’t hit at the same level.

Even so, I could easily see ‘Dead Inside’ sitting on The Crow soundtrack alongside greats from The Cure, Pantera, Nine Inch Nails, and of course, Helmet. No mean feat.

‘Step Off’ Official Audio Track

TRACKLISTING:
01. Intro
02. Dead Inside
03. Recognize
04. Matapacos
05. Stoner Safari
06. Step Off
07. Space Force
08. Fake News Blues
09. Wall
10. Forgotten Death

LINE-UP:
Ty Winslow – Guitar and vocals
Andy Bowerman – Bass, vocals, and synth
Nick James – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Richard Iggo and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.