The Family Jewels

Straight Line

I have to admit that when I first saw an album by Snapdragon in the release bin, I got excited thinking it might have been a new release from a female singer-songwriter from Augusta, GA that put out a record under the same moniker several years back. Alas, it is not. Perhaps the title — The Family Jewels — should have alerted me to the fact that it wasn’t. The Snapdragon I knew likely wouldn’t have ventured into that territory and certainly wouldn’t have used the cover shot that this one boasts. Oh well.

So what do I think of this Los Angeles-based Snapdragon? Quite a bit less. But I can’t quite say that they are awful, just rather pedestrian. Musically, they sound at times reminiscent of mid-tempo rock female-led bands such as that dog, Hole, or Veruca Salt, or a rougher Republica. Lead singer Summer Rose swims in angst amidst her rock vocals that position her as a Linda Perry (4 Non-Blondes) and sometimes a Courtney Love (Hole) understudy.

Interestingly enough, Rose was actually a young protege of gymnastics coach Bela Caroli (think Kerry Strugg from the Olympics a few years back) and an Olympic hopeful until an injury at age 11. Then she picked up the guitar and instead reached out for rock and roll glory. But the band is not quite there yet.

The music is at times somewhat catchy in its rawk vein, but the lyrics often venture into cringe-worthy territory. Witness “Life’s No Picnic,” in which Rose runs through a list of bad day experiences: “Three weeks after we broke up/he got married to a slut/with hiked-up skirt and pumped-up lips/I bet she’s sportin’ plastic tits.” Yawn.

The majority of the lyrics on the entire album fit the theme of part of a verse from “Loserville”: “It’s like the whole damn world just flipped me the bird.” Lots of “life sucks and the world hates me” mentality played over metal-lite riffs.

But there are a few songs that are worth a listen. “Lucky Day,” “Sometimes I” and “Candy-Coated World” stand out amidst the others for their ear-catching appeal, while “Numb” is lyrically chilling, with its vague hints of past sexual abuse or rape. Whether it is autobiographical or not is unclear.

Snapdragon isn’t horrid, they just aren’t bringing much new to the playing field. The image, music, and even lyrics seem to fit just a little too well into the hard rock style that I’ve come to think of as stereotypical neo-glam Los Angeles rawk. If you like that sound led by an gruff female, you’ll probably like Snapdragon. If you don’t, you’ll probably want to venture elsewhere.


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