Wow! If you thought Mooney Suzuki's Estrus debut, People Get
Ready, rocked, Electric Sweat will blow you away.
Something happened to the New York City foursome since last year.
They're still loyal to '60s-ish straight-ahead swaggering rock ;n'
roll. But writing songs more fluid, intricate and infectious than
ever before, lead Sammy James Jr. is on fire. And igniting the flame
is guitarist Graham Tyler, whose spiraling, ear-tickling riffs
alongside James Jr.'s sneering wails take you back to the mesmerizing
and awe-inspiring days of Page and Plant (fine, so I'm not quite old
enough to have been there, but you catch my drift).
Mooney's garage-influenced, slightly sludgy tunes were decent before,
but they didn't have the impact of the 10 thunderous tracks off
Electric Sweat. And I bet producer Jim Diamond who's
known for producing the White Stripes, The Dirtbombs and The Go
is at least partially responsible for the improvement.
Recorded at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit, the band's second
full-length bleeds raw energy, soul and power. Driven by catchy hooks
and lines that run together like watercolor, "In A Young Man's Mind"
finds the singer reminiscing: "I remember the day/ It was in the
second grade /Well I was in love with every band/ I couldn't get
enough/ ... A kid with a guitar/ Monkey see/ Monkey do/ Wanna be like
Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page and Hendrix too."
Opening with the back-porch, twangy acoustic guitar and some
good-time-havin' handclaps, "Oh Sweet Susanna" feels like a lost gem
from the '60s, with its sex-oozing Mick Jaggeresque vocals and sweet,
down-home rhythm & blues. And what true rock album would be complete
without the heart-wrenching ballad? As cheesy as the ballads have
come to feel, "The Broken Heart" is actually quite moving. Augmented
by the cries of the organ and using a lullaby-style melody common to
dozens of love songs, the ballad is sad, touching and cleverly
written: "Broken bells/ No they won't ring today / No the broken
piano won't play/ The oak's broken branch can't grow no/ And the
broken motor just don't go," James Jr. sings before shifting to a
hopeful tone: "And sunlight can make storm clouds fade away/ The
brightest diamonds can be made from lumps of broken coal/ And the
broken heart can be made whole."
And Mooney Suzuki playing their hearts throughout this gem of
an album are certainly closer to becoming whole.