If It Ain’t Broke, Break It
They ain’t afraid to say it, and they ain’t afraid to break it. Starwood wanna be stars, and they got nine cuts that speak volumes about the Sunset Strip scene in all its previous sleazy excess. The result is a stripped down, spit and polished debut record that recalls the splendor of the late ’70s groups like KISS, Thin Lizzy, The Ramones, The ‘Dolls… only none of ’em had a voice like this! Led by the inimitable Lizzy Borden, whose siren-like screams led the American metal assault for his self-titled namesake of the mid-’80s, Starwood is a blood-thinned, under-produced alter ego. With their heads out of the hairspray and into the gutter, If It Ain’t Broke… is an oil-stained rag of a record that descends to the deep ranks of rock n’ roll’s underground. With the successful launching of repackaged ol’ schoolers like Brides Of Destruction, Velvet Revolver and Skid Row, Starwood’s aiming for their share of rock’s raunchier audience with youthful exuberance. And they got the chops to cut an imposing profile on the changing scene that’s seen its share of faceless players come and go.
Lizzy’s vox still deafen, though they’re tempered as the occasion calls. The players, featuring bassist Martin Anderssen, guitarist Steals and drummer Joey Scott, pick up and lay down like they’ve done nothing but listen to KISS, Cheap Trick and Aerosmith for the last six years. And while none of those namesakes can be considered outward influences on the album’s output, the attitude and delivery are one and the same. “Subculture” is an opening sneer that nods to The ‘Pistols, or nearly anything the Damned put out in their infancy. “Won’t Back Down” is a pop-inflected hit single of a song that’s sing-along worthy. “What’s Your Damage” is a slowly building sleeper tune with an AC/DC hook that’ll get no exposure, yet everyone who owns the album will dig it. The title track is a catchy, up-tempo acoustic/electric ballad with an arena-sized chorus that decries destruction of property over drinking in one’s tears — how refreshing. “Bad Machine” is a highway cruising closer built on low chording and reverb, successfully catching the throat of the garage/punk style with both hands, before proclaiming: “No, we’re NOT L.A. Guns… but we damn sure do ’em well enough if we fucking want to!”
Starwood is not KISS, Cheap Trick, or Guns ‘N Roses. Then again, neither were the first two when they started; and there’s only one G n’ R, and even they don’t know who they are anymore. But there’s plenty of room for undernourished bands preaching the almighty power of the chord rather than political agendas and pouty-lipped teen drama. So if it ain’t broke… buy it!
Metal Blade Records: www.metalblade.com