Album Review :: Social Distortion – Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes

“If you enjoy getting let down by auspicious intros and want to buy an entire album for one half decent song, then this is the album for you.”

Social Distortion have been kicking it as a band for over thirty years now, with a brief hiatus in 1985. They are famed for punk/rock n roll riffs and tales of misanthropy. This, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, is the seventh full length studio release and their first album since ’04. It’d be an understatement to say Social D fans have been in great anticipation for this record, though I think they’ll be a little disappointed.

The opening track straight off is totally pointless, Road Zombie, an instrumental track, is neither relevant nor impressive. It is nothing more than a just over two minute tedium.

The second track California (Hustle and Flow) at first seems more like a poorly produced Aerosmith song than any sort of punk-rock anthem, with lines like “but the black man taught me how to sing the blues” sees singer Mike Ness really grasping at straws for lyrical content. The song, it has to be said, isn’t completely terrible, with a very creative tempo change kicking in in the last minute. This gives the song a feel much more synonymous with the back catalogue of Social D. I really have nothing positive to say about the backing vocals either.

Thankfully Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown comes in next and a fantastic breath of fresh air on this so far dull release. This song is catchy, has edge and is a real anthem that could show modern bands a thing or two about writing heavily rock n roll influenced punk. *cough* Gaslight Anthem *cough.*

The album seems to plod along with nothing really standing out, even the song Machine Guns Blues, with a hopeful hard-rocking intro, falls flat on its face after the first forty seconds tumbling awkwardly into mediocrity. It seems that Social D have finally fallen into that “Not another old punk band” category that not even being signed with a label as incredible as Epitaph could save them from.

The album progresses in a similar fashion, with each track sounding more and more like “Bryan Adams Greatest Hits” than any form of punk rock. I was hoping for one last redeeming nugget of rock n roll glory but this album, unfortunately, doesn’t have it. If you enjoy getting let down by auspicious intros and want to buy an entire album for one half decent song, then this is the album for you.

I’m not entirely without sympathy for Social Distortion though, it must be hard to write exciting new songs when a band much younger has come along and made that original style of yours one million times better. Cheers Lucero!

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