THE MICROPHONES – It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water (2000)

Review by: Victor Guimarães
Album assigned by: Alex Smith

The Microphones is that kind of experimental band that would not be easy to find, even in experimental circles. Phil Elvrum, the creative genius responsible for this madness, is definitely something out of the ordinary — for whatever reason one may consider, be it a positive or a negative reason. 

But as I want to be objective tonight, It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water is a big art, experimental rock album. It sounds great, it never gets boring, but ok, it could be tiring, even if just a bit. The listener can appreciate some of the basic rock song structures, with guitars, basses and drums, while getting amazed by Phil’s musical idea of telling a story. Yeah, conceptual for you. Or it seemed so to me. The album flows smooth, full of lyrical metaphors and their corresponding sounds, creating a hazy atmosphere orchestrated by elements as different as electronic beats, synthesizers and organs, plus his very nice voice, dual male/female vocal parts, production-added traits, such as the distinctive sound of wind blowing, and noises, noise-pop style. The main song structure is very good as well. Good melodies, smart riffs, yadayada. 

After listening to it once, I dug a bit and found that there are some noticeable tributes to Eric’s Trip and other minor inspirations from many other sources. For me, the album sounded quite original and I got the feeling the big Phil added his touch to everything. I respect his way of doing things. And I may say I admire his work. And maybe his madness. Anyone around who’s got the same liking for a well-organized musical journey, in a progressive, creative fashion could take the bait and listen to Elvrum’s insanity. It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water is a good way to start.

MOSSING ABOUT: DEVO – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (1978)

Review by: Jonathan Moss

 

I’ll admit bias straight away, Devo are one of my favourite bands of all time. They’re far better than The Residents. This album in particular is a good example of that, it’s such a bizarre and wonderful collection of odd styles, but with a cynical current which stops it from ever feeling superfluous or lightweight. The lyrics are similarly fantastic, witty and ironic, but with depth. Critics in the 70s and 80s didn’t get Devo, they thought they were misanthropic clowns, but there was a bruised heart driving them, a sadness for what they perceived as the end of 60s idealism. So yeah, they were cynical, but not for the sake of being dicks. Of course, they also had a tremendous sense of fun as well, to the point where they are remembered by most people as a novelty band. I’m not exactly sour about this, “Whip It” is a great song, but just like the comedian who’s remembered for one great joke amongst many, Devo deserve more.

The weird thing about the album is the almost retro 50s vibe. This doesn’t manifest so much in the sound as the aesthetic, though some of the synth noises sound like they’re influenced by cheesy 50s sci-fi. The guitar playing of Bob Mothersbaugh also has that twinge. Speaking of Bob 1, what an underrated guitarist! It’s probably because they only done two albums that were properly guitar based but during them he showed himself as someone capable of all sorts of catchy riffs, bizarre sounds and a general kind of good rock feel, but demented too. If Laurie Anderson used guitars more they’d be similar to Bob’s. The other instruments are cool as well, the synth playing is colourful and varied, the bass playing is pleasantly melodic and the drumming is very tight. The sounds are pretty varied as well, there’s upbeat pop rock songs, nerdier pieces and some goshdarned rock and roll that sounds like one of them mechanical bulls, up and down up and down up and down!

Raucous.

The album in general has a weird vibe, but very pleasant and tuneful as well. Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale handle the singing between them and they both have sort of goofy new wavey voices. Baritones, but very enthusiastic. Fucking manic at times. Mark in general sounds zanier, with Gerald being the more cynical one. For me the album sounds kind of like if slightly offbeat critical theorists decided to record an album together, moving from their homeland to some place in decaying industrial America and chronicling the negative dialectics of life there. And I guess, what with me trying to impress upon you my critical authority, I’ll say the album should sound like that for you as well. And if not that, it should at least sound damn good, which I will now illustrate by writing about the tracks. Then, after that, if I can find anything to negatively critique, I’ll do that.

Well, it starts off excellently with “Uncontrollable Urge”, a bright punkish energetic pop rocker. It has really cool computerish synth noises as well, a catchy joyous guitar riff and very enthusiastic vocals from Mark Mothersbaugh. Jesus, the song really captures the spirit of its title well. There’s a great robotic call and response bit at the end where Mark says “and I say yeah” to which Bob and Gerry respond things like “he says yeah”. That section is tense, and then it launches into Mark yelling “And I say yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!!” as if his testicles had just been tased and he took a perverse joy in it. This is fabulously followed by their herky jerky cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, a classic piece of deconstruction where the song is nerdified to make the lyrics seem much more accurate, fuck, you can hear the sexual tension in the nervous bassline, queasy guitar line and almost militaristic dancey drums. Over which Mark sings very nervously.

The next two songs are “Praying Hands” and “Space Junk”, which for whatever reason I’ve always lumped together. They’re both great songs, “Praying Hands” is lyrically a satire of religion, comparing it to a dance craze. Musically it’s really upbeat and bouncy, with a fun squiggly high pitched synth and catchy stuttery guitar. Mark’s vocal sound amusing and are quite hysteric. “Space Junk” opens with a kind of chiming guitar (or keyboard?), it sounds like it could be a sound used for an elevator button. In the chorus Gerald Casale lists off countries and American states, assuming a hick accent for the hick states. This is accompanied by a wild guitar line and a sorta angsty sound.

Then we’re on to possibly the two best songs on the album! First off is Mongoloid, which is a perfect example of how to create a tense song. It opens with a pulsating, gloomy bass line, this is followed by some eerie synth noises, the bass line gets louder and more ominous and then the choppy guitar line joins in. The song is sung in unison by Gerald and Bob 1, in a nasally nerd voice. The song continues to grow in aggression, with screeching synth sounds culminating in a solo, while Bob and Gerry chant “mongoloid he was a mongoloid happier than you and me”. Menacing song, but catchy too! Then there’s “Jocko Homo”. It starts off with a menacing fast punkish riff, leading on to a jerkier one. Over this Mark kind of sing-shouts the lyrics, to call and response from Bob and Gerry (Mark: Are we not men? Backing vox: we are devo!) This is done with various tones of voice. It’s a fun song, their mission statement. Not that the idea of de-evolution is original or intelligent, though it serves the band well for their satire. Appropriately, the song does have a sort of primordial energy to it. The bridge is probably the catchiest part, with Mark enthusiastically singing “God made man, but he used a monkey to do it!”, leading back to the call and response, this time with more tension. And monkey noises! Courtesy of Brian Eno! Who produced the album! With the help of David Bowie! Okay let’s go!

I’m not huge into “Too Much Paranoias”, it’s a cool song, lots of build up, borderline filler. “Gut Feeling” is one of their most beautiful songs though, opening with a catchy guitar line that reminds me of “Don’t Fear The Reaper” (I got this from Mark Prindle, he’s totally right), with a nice driving rhythm guitar as well. Then a melancholic, strangely electronic sounding piano. This build up goes on for about a minute, when Mark starts finally singing with a nice guitar burst it’s pretty orgasmic. Mark sounds frustrated singing “I’ve got a gut feeling!” and when he sings the “got a gut feeling, centered ’round long time ago, on your ability to torment” it’s almost touching. This segues into Mark shouting “I’ve got a gut feeling” with blasts of guitar feedback, then seguing into a short one minute punker called “slap your mammy”. It’s got a lot of energy and feels kind of like a hoedown, but it’s not a great song. This is followed by “Come Back Jonee”, a fun kind of rock and rollish sounding tune, with really nice guitar playing and a vibrant sound. Then “Sloppy (I Saw My Baby Getting)”, which perfectly captures the sensation of losing an erection, with Mark almost yodelling “I think I mised the hole-ah” over what sounds like a synth disappointedly powering down. “Shrivel Up”, is one of the best songs on the album, and a great way to close! What a creepy fucking song. Gerry sings in this kind of wry, menacing voice over plodding electronic noises and a droning synth. The guitar playing has a processed, otherworldly sound. This all helps make the song sound very strange and unnerving, kind of like a song that would play over a sewer system in a rural alien planet.

Well, as I’ve wrote this review I have developed some criticisms. There’s not enough Gerry songs goddamnit! I read in a book about Devo that someone felt they lost something when they lost the McCartney (Mothersbaugh) and Lennon (Casale) dynamic and I really agree, Gerry just sounded more spiteful and cynical than Mark and the few songs he does get to sing are amongst the best. I also wish they had allowed Brian Eno more influence in the production, the songs that he added to the most sound really great.Erm, outside of that not much, the album is structured perfectly and most of the songs are top tier.

So yeah, very good album, essential if you want to be a respectable human being.

LOVAGE – Music To Make Love To Your Old Lady By (2001)

Review by: Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan
Assigned by: Alexander Shatkevich

 

It’s called Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By but the sound is so pleasantly soporific that you’d be forgiven for thinking that rohypnol must have been involved somewhere along the line. For, despite the occasional breathy orgasmic groan and Mike Patton’s throaty perv croak, too lethargic for the vigour and tumble of heated lovemaking, the album never really screams out raging erection or well-tongued tumescent clitoris. Instead it feels like the aural equivalent of a good vintage cognac in a warm glass tumbler taken, of course, in front of a roaring fireplace — that same slow viscous consistency and that same comforting sense of crackly mellow warmth — and no one’s going to blame you if you just happen to doze off partway through. In the end Dan the Automator has dusted off some of his choicest vinyl samples to craft a captivating piece of easy listening revivalism. It’s not exactly the Swans  Scott Walker + Sunn O))), but then so what? This is an album for late in the evening, when all the business of the day is over and done with. Loosen your tie, ease yourself into your favourite armchair with the aforementioned vintage cognac in one hand and perhaps a big fat one in the other and let this wee gem of a Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By work its magic. (7/10)

YES – Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973)

Review by: Jonathan Moss
Assigned by: Irfan Hidayatullah

 

This is without a doubt one of the best albums Yes have ever done. Easily top five, perhaps top three. Definitely in the pantheon of top prog albums in general. God, its such a fucking good album. Why? The whole package man, its got almost everything that makes Yes good (it is missing one rather crucial element, which should be obvious to Yes fans). Jon Anderson’s esoteric religious lyrics, his bizarrely high pitched but melodically pleasing and strangely friendly vocals, Chris Squire’s thick, busy and catchy bass lines, Steve Howe’s acidic, hooky guitar playing, Rick Wakeman’s ear grabbing, rich keyboard textures and symphonic playing (though at points he does seem to cross into cheesy sci-fi territory, but that gives the album a goofy charm rather than diminishing it in any serious way), and last but certainly not least, co-producer Eddie Offord, who manages to get a nice, clear separation between the instruments. Oh, and Alan White’s competent drumming.

Of course, this album does have a reputation for pretension, and at eighty minutes with four songs, I can’t really argue with that. However, I will argue that there’s nothing entirely wrong with being pretentious. Obviously it can result in a lot of pretty crappy music, but so can music that’s lacking in pretension, like most modern indie bands. So I guess I would call this album an example of successful pretentious music.

Besides, the album manages not to be monotonous through a variety of ways. For one, the four songs all have a different mood from each other, and within those songs there are different moods, and different sections, like an experimental novel written by multiple people, but with a similar vision. It helps, that as Mark Prindle pointed out, the album is not particularly bombastic. All the songs are pretty, and they generally sound too mystical and withdrawn to get extroverted, as bombastic music requires. I swear, if he’d been born later, Jon Anderson would have been a great neofolk artist. And Rick Wakeman would be a synthpop legend!

The way the instruments intertwine is amazing as well, it shows something of a lack of ego in the band, because although the instruments all get their own moments and in general sound fantastic, they work together beautifully at all times, never fighting for supremacy. In this regard they are like a good team of improvisatory comedians (this comparison will definitely be used sardonically).

On to the songs now! It starts off with “The Revealing Science of God”, which is definitely my favourite song on the album. It starts off with these mysterious ambient sounds, then starts to build in intensity, as Jon chants his lyrics, before the bass joins in and launches into a fantastic melody along with a majestic mellotron line from Wakeman. The song just has such a sense of joy to it, it sounds like celebration music for some esoteric religious party. Steve’s guitar playing is clean and melodic, almost byrdsy, but with a jazzy edge. It’s amazing how much the band can get out the beginning, just Jon’s angelic “what happened to wonders we once knew so well” bit, the bouncy guitar, catchy as fuck guitar and heavenly synth. This launches on to a tenser, more hard rocking bit, with aggressive but tuneful guitar playing and an uncertain vocal melody from Jon. And then! A very pretty synth bit, the song can’t stay tense, its just too jolly! It does become more chilled out though, kind of back to the proto-ambient vibe. For a prog epic its not that similar to something like Supper’s Ready, its more like “Close to the Edge”, it has different sections, but it always returns to the same themes. Of course, each times with variations, like a different riff or a frantic piano bit. Layer it more and keep it interesting and multifaceted while following the same melody, which is good, because what a fucking melody it is. Steve gets a very weird guitar solo as well, it becomes more pretty and conventional, but at the beginning it sounds almost like something that could be used in an artsier new wave song as a goofy sound effect. This leads to the “young christians see it” bit, which has an epic and of course, religious vibe, with some mellow synth playing. The song ends on a bouncy, joyous note, with spastic keyboard and bass, before getting more mellow, with dramatic singing from Jon, before returning triumphantly to the central melody.

The next song, “The Remembering”, opens with pretty swirly keyboards. The atmosphere of the song is mellow and lush, this is aided by Steve Howe’s hypnotic guitar line. This gives the song a sleepy energy, like animals napping in a humid jungle. This is followed by an ominous keyboard line and a more energetic bit. The guitar line is poppy and the bass is smooth. Then there is what I regard as the best bit in the song, because during it the percussion is actually punchy! Alan White temporarily stops being shite. Of course, the chiming acoustic guitar helps as well. It reminds me of The Wicker Man, only if it hadn’t been a horror film. The song ends on a cool celestial section, with beautiful guitar and choir like mellotron. The song can get repetitive within its structure but, along no Revealing Science, it is still a very strong song, though not quite a classic.

Admittedly, “The Ancient” is pretty bad. The song has its moments, like a pretty folk pop bit near the end, which could almost pass as its own song, and some interesting noises. But outside of this it has some of the ugliest guitar playing Steve Howe has done on record, just a kind of squealing atonal mess. The percussion doesn’t work either, it is overly busy. It’s just a very formless, confused song. It’s like they tried to go from prog to outright avant-garde. Leave that to Crimson, guys. The noises, for me make me conceptualise it as a kind of proto-Gates of Delirium, even if they don’t actually sound much alike. Ultimately it just sounds like video game music for some forgettable 90s game.

Luckily the song ends with an absolute classic, and the second best song on the album. This is of course “Ritual”. The best bit of the song is the “nous somme du soleil” chant. This occurs twice, relatively early in the song, featuring the beautiful chant of that title from Jon, under carefree, sweeping guitar and catchy bass. It creates this religious atmosphere, but one of joy, like a charismatic Church, but not at all! It’s reprised again at the end, but this time it’s more mellow, with otherworldly tinkling piano. These sections are for me definitely the highlight of the song, they convey something I cannot put to words, a spectral beauty. Something life affirming. However, if the rest of the song was junk, it would still be filler, so luckily the rest of the song is pretty great. Throughout it features various pretty vocal performances from Jon, pretty guitar leads and riffs (including at one point a nice punchy riff) from Steve and Squire’s catchy bass playing. There is also a good hard rocking bit, though it still retains the fundamental optimism of the tune. The song is a beautiful epic mantra, just not as quite as realised as revealing science.

Jesus, look how long this review is. Now I understand why critics hated prog so much, it is hard to review succinctly, unlike a punk song where you can just say “catchy aggressive guitar riff and sneering vocals”. Well, that doesn’t change that this album is great, even if one of the songs blows and it does suffer from padding. The classics make up for it!

FRANK OCEAN – Blonde (2016)

Review by: Eric Pember
Assigned by: Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan

 

 
I hadn’t really heard Frank Ocean before now. I did like “Pyramids” because of John Mayer’s David Gilmour-esque guitar solo (which is still his only reason for existing, as far as I’m concerned), but that was about it.

I admit that I’m pretty suspicious of this type of music. It seems very calculated to appeal to those who are too smart for normal Top 40 pop, but at the same time feel distanced from truly experimental music. That also describes me relatively well (I’ve taken to calling myself a “contratarian populist” lately), and thus, I should be able to like this music.

However, I just can’t bring myself to do so. I suspect that part of it is modern production standards. I know that sounds like such a rockist thing to say, and it kinda is, but I can’t get myself not to feel that way. I know that rationally, that’s not true, since I quite like Janelle Monae and Kendrick Lamar. Then again, I’m told that both of them throw back to earlier epochs with their sound, so that’s probably why.

(I’m gonna note right now before I go further that I don’t feel like everything should sound like it did in the 1960s, as much as I like the general sound of the era. It’s just the pop production of this decade that really annoys me, somehow.)

I did start to get used to the production after a few tracks, but that’s when I unveiled another layer. Much of this album sounded like a variant on white guy with acoustic guitar (or as Todd in the Shadows calls it, WGWAG) music. It’s just that, buried underneath modernistic production and the trappings of R&B/soul music, it sounds suave enough to lure in the kind of people who’d usually be repelled by music like this.

Thankfully, after that, yet another layer peeled off and the album suddenly started showing actual potential. “Solo (Reprise)” is written and performed by Andre 3000, which is always a treat. “Pretty Sweet” then manages to build off the momentum that interlude created with some pretty clever atmospherics, which make me want to go back and listen to Channel Orange, because I’ve heard that album is full of that kind of thing.

Unfortunately, immediately after that one more layer peeled off, and the onion was revealed to be rotten from the beginning. “Pretty Sweet” is followed by a potentially-justifiable-but-probably-useless spoken word interlude about Facebook, then it unfortunately returns to the modernistic production and WIGWAG stylizations. So much for the promise the preceding two tracks showed, I guess.

The last layer then peels off, and the album just flatlines in a weird mass of Radiohead-esque emptiness that’s probably supposed to mean something, but doesn’t really add up to anything.

Sorry Star Trek II Wrath of Khan, but I can’t bring myself to like this album, although I could if more of it sounded like “Pretty Sweet”.

THE JIM CARROLL BAND – Catholic Boy (1980)

Review by: Charly Saenz
Album assigned by: B.B. Fultz

 

 

Well, somebody said once: “music, like life itself, is cyclic”. So, that means we regularly need a reboot. Humans need to get back (to somewhere they feel like) home, and Music needs to go back to.. well, rock’n roll. Even the good ol’ Beatles had in their short but meaningful career a return to roots (“Get back, Jojo!”).

And Punk was the best reboot that Rock and Roll could think of, at the time at least, with all those Elton John wigs and Styx shining suits. But .. Do you remember that weird band from the late 80s, “Pop Will Eat Itself”? (You don’t? Lucky you, but the name was great). Well, as any major movement, or government or world leader (Hey Romans, I’m looking at you!), no matter how big you get.. You’re scheduled to fall down.

And “Punk ate itself”. Or well the system ate it.. “streamlined it”. But those who survived, those who reconfigured themselves, did great stuff at least for a longer while (Clash, Jam, Cure, etc). The Sex Pistols would apparently reject any “dinosaur rock” reference, but they ended up acknowledging people like Lennon or The Doors.

Thus, Best Punk learned to reconnect with the raw emotion of rock and roll, that was the key, more than any  plastic hairdo – enter Jim Carroll.

Jim was a writer, primarily. I bet that’s how he established some bond with Patti Smith, with whom he got to play about 1978. “Catholic boy” is his band’s first album. And let me tell you, as a quick spoiler, that it rocks (and pops!) really fine.

Jim’s music in this album is good ol’ rock and roll, with great poppy hooks and professional playing. It will turn up as a slow rocking tune in “Day And Night” (female vocals and all), like the early and best Bruce Springsteen. Or feverish and punkish in the opening classic, “Wicked Gravity” and also in  “Three Sisters”. “People Who Died” is another fast rocker, featured on a LOT of movies out there. And the lyrics of course, cut to the bone, and the punk/joyful tone only adds to the wow factor: “Those are people who died, died/They were all my friends, and they died”..

“Crow” reminds me of The Stones’ “Shattered” and it makes sense, being that the Stones’ New Wavish album.

Highlights however are the more adventurous and moody songs like “City Drops Into The Night”. Or The winding “It’s Too Late” and its magnificent guitar work. “Catholic Boy” is a hell of a closer with that punctuating bass riff.

A hell of rock and roll album made with the heart by a Rocker, and of course a Writer. Read those lyrics, the guy will thank you from somewhere above or below where he’s staying with the (other) People Who Died.

Keep on rockin’!

MOSSING ABOUT: SUMO – Llegando Los Monos (1986)

Review by: Jonathan Moss
Dedicated to Charly Saenz 

 

A CERTAIN SOMEONE was supposed to review this album for round 13 but he failed horribly and here I am, kicking ass. 
This is a very strong album. The instrumentation throughout is clear and poppy, whilst having a punkish energy and a new waveish sense of fun. Even when the instruments fail to move past the conventions and stereotypes of pop rock they’re saved by a feeling of excitement. Kind of like a B-Movie. The groovy melodicity of the album is responsible for moving it past this as well, like a bonfire party! (one that doesn’t scare animals). Vocalist and main man behind the band, Luca Prodan, is a really good singer. You can tell he was influenced by the British punk explosion but vocally, at this point anyway, he sounds a lot more sophisticated, though still retaining a snarl. He’s multifaceted, he can sound romantic, witty, passionate, angry. Fairly conventional human emotions for sure, but that only ensures he’s genuine in expressing them. The lads got a lot of charisma, and adding this to the hookiness of the tunes makes it a joyfully fun listen.
The album is definitely rock music but within that paradigm it’s got enough varied songs and moods to stop it from becoming dull. It opens with a short, eerie synth piece, which is immediately and amusingly contrasted with the first song, the short pop-punker “El Ojo Blindado”. Melodically it sounds very similar to Blondie’s “One Way Or Another”. It has a tense, energetic chorus, like a person trying to grab a one million pound cheque out of an arcade grabber. It’s quite short as well, making it the perfect energetic punk opener, with a fab guitar solo. Not that the album stays in that groove, the subsequent song is a synth laden funky tune, with a dark yet quirky vibe. The vocals are almost spoken, the opening lyrics “She had my head on a plate/With her sweet and sour sauce/She was riding in her car/I was riding on my horse/Neck and neck along the road/Well, well I have nothing left to hide/So, what a heck/Firefly cars, women rushing past” are great. Luca’s enunciating of “what the heck” is amusing, like a mischievous kid. This is well contrasted with the epic romanticism of the chorus. The guitar playing is suitable, having a sort of jagged moodiness, reminiscent of the guitar playing on a Wall of Voodoo record. “TV Caliente” has funky scratchy guitars and a coy, sardonic feel. This is continued on the next song “Next Week”, but its a lot more raucous and hard rocking, like a sarcastic comedian got drunk and became more manic and mean. 
“Cinco Magnificos” is the strangest song on the album. It has really creepy ominous synth playing, violin that reminds me of Laurie Anderson (her music, not Laurie herself), a spaced out echoey vibe, spy rock guitar, bouncy echoed drum machines and a druggy vocal performance. Some of the synths wouldn’t sound too out of place in a synthwave song. The violin playing gives it an intense driving momentum, and the keyboard playing evokes images of a dark road surrounded by desert and gas stations. After the unnerving vibe of this song there’s “Rollando”, which has a sweet reggae rhythm guitar track, swirling gypsy violin playing and sardonic, sexy vocals. It’s still a dark song, but it’s got a cool urban feel, unlike the rural gothic of Cinco. Like the protagonist of the song made it from the empty desert to the big city. You can even tell he came from the desert because of the harmonica in the song! Luca singing “ooh, survival time” is dark, but he does it in such a beautifully haunting way, as if he knows that the apocalypse will bring time for heroism and sexy girls. “Los Viejos Vinagres” follows, which has a wonderfully funky scratch guitar and melodic horn combination. It has the energy of a punk song. Luca’s singing is incredibly fun as well. Groovy pop-funk is what the album needs after the darkness, like a handjob after an autopsy.
“No Good” is a pleasant, lazy shuffle, with catchy reggae guitar, but it’s one of the lesser songs on the album, especially compared to what follows. “Heroina” is definitely my favourite song on the album. It doesn’t sound like anything else on the it, and in theory I should hate it, with it coming very close to arena rock. But it’s such a well constructed song, with great dark ironic lyrics. In the chorus Luca enthusiastically and bombastically shout-sings “HEROIN” over a mellow catchy guitar line and epic saxophone playing, its one of the funniest things I’ve encountered recently. Hell, it’s more punk than the punk song on the album. It’s like a dark Springsteen song, if Bruce wasn’t one of the least talented songwriters out there. The verses are great as well, being genuinely emotionally touching yet gauche and barroomy. Luca delivers a sneering mock-romantic performance and there’s silly female vocals to back it up. Maybe it would veer too close to parody if it wasn’t so catchy and genuinely rousing, making it strangely touching, especially knowing Luca did suffer from heroin addiction. And died at a tragically young age because of drink.
The album ends on a reprise of the synth piece at the beginning, but not before one last song, the decadent party viber “Que Me Pisen”. I wouldn’t call it a highlight but it has a cool live feel and an amusing performance from Luca. 
Anyway, forget charlatans like Bono and Springsteen. Luca Prodan is where its at, the rightful heir to Joe Strummer.