If you are still reeling over Lemmy’s death three and a half years later, then The Hangovers’s sophomore effort Pardon Our Appearance might be able to fill the void. The band might not be as relentlessly speedy, but their bourbon-guzzling, trouble-seeking persona continues to feel authentic and lived in much like their heroes Motorhead. It also helps that they haven’t changed too much since Take As Needed. This can sometimes make the album a repetitive listen, but if you like your rock delivered grizzled, gargled and spit out onto a plate, then these guys have got the goods.
It’s evident that The Hangovers have found their wonderfully filthy niche and are content to roll around in it. None of it is particularly fresh or groundbreaking but I get the impression that they couldn’t care less. Every song sounds like it was made by a fun-loving biker gang with a passion for classic rock, punk, and rockabilly. You can tell that they’ve been religiously listening to the same songs on the jukebox for over two decades. The band even supplies a faithful rendition of The Stray Cats “Bring It Back (again).” What prevents Pardon Our Appearance from being too generic is that it’s churning with charming goofiness and a burning sensitivity that its predecessor didn’t have. Their influences are still very much there but their personalities are starting to shine through.
The first half is particularly fast and loose. “14.75” starts with Bob Kadlec fucking up his first note and murmuring “Jesus fucking Christ” before launching into a scorcher that wouldn’t be out of place on Overkill. Hell, the whole album randomly starts with the Three’s Company theme song. That should be enough indication that even though these guys may act tough, they probably would be great company over a pitcher of beer. However, for all their shenanigans, songs like “I’m Not Broken” and “Cryin’ and Screamin’” reveal a crack in their freewheeling’ facade, which make them much more than just a party band. Using the chorus of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” for the final lines of “Cryin’ and Screamin’” isn’t just a tribute, it furthers the point that freedom isn’t THAT easy to achieve.
A big reason why any of this works is vocalist and guitarist Bob Kadlec. Yes, he sounds A LOT like Lemmy and I do not doubt that like Lemmy, he has seen some serious shit. That said there are a few tracks here where he sounds slightly more regretful and mournful of some of his lifestyle choices. There is also a sense that he isn’t going to change his ways either, which makes him a far more complex and compelling character. It’s easy to dub him as just another rip-off impersonator, but it’s obvious that he’s finally putting his stamp on the persona and it’s a thrill to listen to.
I hope that the band continues to implement more of their personalities cause the albums worst moments are when they rely too much on big dumb hooks and loud crunching guitars of yesteryear. Songs like “Dragstripper” and “Do You Like It” might have worked in the era of Ted Nugent, but now come off as being a bit dated and icky. The latter’s cock-rock tone is especially jarring when considering the world-weariness of some of the better songs. It’s clear though that Pardon Our Appearance is a transition album. I doubt that their overall style will change that much especially since they consider music-making secondary to their love of drinking, but it’ll be exciting to hear them get that much more soulful as they get older.
Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Danielle Kenedy