Monday, February 13, 2012

Michael Monroe - Sensory Overdrive

Approaching 50, former Hanoi Rocks lead vocalist Michael Monroe looks about the same as he did when his old band was just beginning to take off thirty years ago.

While this may do wonders for Monroe’s social life, the real gauge is how his music is holding up underneath all that pancake makeup and glam exterior. Sensory Overdrive is Monroe’s first solo record since Hanoi Rocks called it quits for a second time and it shows that his solo material is also full of vacuum-packed sweet ‘n salty rock, perfectly preserved in its “use by July 14, 1985” packaging.

Some of the credit must go to producer Jack Douglas, who layers Monroe in so much preservatives that it’s easy to overlook just how gnarly some of the riffs can be at times.

As far as Michael is concerned, he raps what occasionally sound like classic rock album titles into new material, fueled by riffs that you’re sure you’ve heard before.

Opener “Trick Of The Wrist” is a cleverly disguised “Raw Power” chord progression while Monroe acknowledges how little he’s changed in appearance while Iggy looks like death warmed over by comparison.

“Got Blood?” is-you guessed it-AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood (You Got It)” warmed over with-swear to god-the riff from Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown” mixed with some other familiar chord sequence for the chorus.

None of this, including Douglas’ heavy use of sweeteners, hinders Sensory Overdrive overall intent: to rock the piss out of a country so wrapped up in discontent that we’ve nearly forgotten how to let loose and have fun.

“We used to do just fine/In the good old fashion times/Now the times just blow our minds” observes Monroe in “Modern Day Miracles” before finally asking everyone to “Stop talkin’/You’re givin’ me a headache!”

And for that, I’m going to have to agree that Sensory Overdrive is delectably original despite all of its obvious lifting from other platters.

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