The Cramps

The Cramps

Fiends of Dope Island


This is one of those really great Cramps albums. Yeah, yeah, I know the Cramps always sound the same. And Fiends of Dope Island is no exception. But the Cramps, for all their worn-out rockabilly solutions and grave-digging references, are still able to reinvent themselves every time around, if only by slightly altering their musical approach. I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s always something fresh about each new album from this weirdly stylish husband-and-wife duo. The songs all sound the same, yet they mysteriously sound nothing alike. Go figure.

These days, the Cramps sound more alive than they have in a long while, which may or may not be a compliment for a band preoccupied with the morbid. It’s a less sludgy affair than we’ve gotten used to, a more upbeat and, dare I say, content album. Not that the Cramps have lost any of their edge, because they haven’t. But they sound less impatient getting their point across, and happier doing this for the sake of itself, out of pure love for the music.

“Papa Satan Sang Louie” and “She’s Got Balls” (“She’s got balls / Solid brass, like Taj Mahal”) offer more than enough evidence that their subject matter hasn’t changed much. If you’re a fan, you’ll love this. You get just what you expect, but you’re also getting something more: the sound of an almost three decade-old band finding pure joy in the music they’re playing, and conveying that joy through grave (!) humor, making their point by sticking to their ideals and their passions. Another solid nail in their coffin. Just the way we like it.

Vengeance Records:

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