The single "Cool Zombie" that preceded the new album is the worst Ant single ever, if you ask me. I think the melody is weak and that Adam's singing is annoying. The b-side "Gun In Your Pocket" is even worse. It's like an un-finished jam that should never have been released in my opinion.
Last time Adam Ant recorded an album was in 1995 and now almost 18 years later I hold a new Adam Ant album in my hands. After the first single I was a bit worried when I put the album in my cd-player. How would new Antmusic for Sexpeople sound in 2013?
The album is however much more to my taste than the single ("Cool Zombie" is the first song on the album.) Second song "Stay In The Game" sounds exactly like something taken from Iggy Pop's cool 1977 album "The Idiot". The title track is a pretty catchy up-tempo song and it is followed by another favourite track "Vince Taylor" driven by a nice guitar.
"Marrying the Gunner's Daughter
You know me, I go too far
Like a Heifer to the Slaughter
Here he comes, the Blueblack Hussar"
The songs on the new album were written by Adam Ant, Marco Pirroni [ex Ant guitarist], Boz Boorer [Morrissey guitarist], Chris McCormack, (also M. Walker is co-credited for the title track.) It is only fair to assume that the songs written with Marco are older re-recorded demos, since Marco and Adam currently don't work (or talk?) together.
When you listen to the album it quickly becomes clear that it has a very uneven production by Ant, Boorer, McCormack. Parts of it sound fine while other parts sound like they were recorded and mixed on a laptop, and that is probably exactly what they were. The sound is flat and weak on several tracks. The drums don't have the right punch, the vocals sometimes drift away and it all feels too loose and unstructured. Those tracks sound like demo recordings and often sound more like live studio jams than a finished piece of work. The album actually holds many great tunes and I am sure it could have sounded a lot better with a better producer and a more focused approach.
I've read some reviewers making comparisons to the "Dirk Wears White Søx" album from 1979, but I can't follow that idea. That album had a raw and hard sound but the production was fine and everything fit well together. I think the sound on the new album is much more like that of "Wonderful" and it's b-sides. A fine song like "Punkyoungirl" would have fitted right in as a "Wonderful" track. I never really liked the "Wonderful" album (apart from the title song), but luckily the tunes on the new album are way more interesting.
Another fine song is "Shrink" which almost has an industrial rock sound. Fine stuff indeed.
"A Fist in the Skull's worth two in the Bush
You're feeling lucky right now
Or does your Brain need a Push
Is it just me or is it just Medication
"Who's a Goofy Bunny Then" is a 1981 demo from "Prince Charming" (and was released on the "Remastered" 2005 box set.) It has been re-recorded here as a tribute to the late Malcolm McLaren. The original demo was also re-worked into the song "Libertine" included on the "Strip" album in 1983. I really like this new version, it still sounds a lot like a track from "Prince Charming". That same sound is achieved on the track "How Can I Say I Miss You?" which is also found as an instrumental reprise as the album's last track.
I really wish I could be a bit more positive about "Adam Ant Is The Blue Black Hussar In Marrying The Gunner's Daughter". But because of the shitty production, I simply cannot rate it higher. I have actually come to like the album quite a bit, but it took me many replays to get to that point.
The problem here is simply the production. Even if you have a pretty good song you can kill it with a shitty production and that happens way too often here. The album feels randomly compiled because of that and it feels uneven. That is a shame because there is much more potential in the 17 songs.
If you are a long time Ant fan like me, you will probably give it the time and replays it needs to open up and you will come to like it like I do. If you are a casual Ant fan, who basically only know the hit singles then I fear you'll have a hard time cracking this nut. If nothing else then perhaps this new album can pave the way for more new Antmusic in the future. Here's hope that it does.
Big credits should be given for the effort that has gone into the cd booklet. It has 20 pages of photos and all lyrics included. It is very rare to see such quality in this day and age! It makes you wonder if the vinyl 2LP is worth getting too.
At the end of the day it is a great thing to have Adam Ant back with a new album and I hope he gets to visit Copenhagen with his Ant-show in 2013. It would fuckin' rock!