Rotten Thing to Say
posted on 7/2012 By:
Canada’s Burning Love is perhaps most notable for featuring the vocal and lyrical mischief of former Cursed frontman Chris Colohan. With second album Rotten Thing to Say, however, Burning Love ought to also become notable for whipping up a satisfying display of split lip hardcore cut through with boozily grinning rock and roll.
Burning Love’s hardcore hews much more closely to punk than to metal, but there’s absolutely loads of classic, nasty rock and roll and early punk running through the album, from MC5 and the Stooges to the Sex Pistols and newer fare like the Murder City Devils. Still, the closest contemporary act is likely Every Time I Die, particularly given Burning Love’s affinity for tossing off hot Southern rock licks and greasy swagger.
Colohan is a gifted lyricist, and his vocals are extremely understandable, making it easy enough to follow along with the grimly humorous sermonizing of his alternately lecherous and enraged voice. Despite the fact that Colohan’s vocals and lyrics are up front and undoubtedly a principal draw, the whole band is a smooth unit – easing off for his punchlines, then cranking up and buckling down on a dime.
Apart from a faint residue of low, stinking buzz on the bass, Rotten Thing to Say also features one of Kurt Ballou’s least “Kurt Ballou”-sounding production jobs in recent memory. Each instrument hits a quite natural resonance, such that even when the band rollicks along at full hardcore tilt, one never forgets that this is just a great rock and roll band tearing shit up. “Hateful Comforts” is one of the fiercer full-band attacks, and the second guitar plays a tasty solo over its charging verse section. “Tremors” is a real old hardcore stomper, “Damage Case” boasts a sweaty descending lick, and the scorching anti-Creationst screed of “Made Out of Apes” closes out with the absolutely brilliant gang-shout of “Weren’t you / the ones / who said, / ‘Dust to dust’?”
There are a few missteps, of course. The instrumental “1231” really drags the album’s midsection down, and “Pig City II” doesn’t really use its repetitive bluster to build effective tension. Both songs highlight the fact that when the focus is taken off of the bilious delivery of Colohan’s acid lyrics, the whole effort falters. The penultimate song “Broken Glass,” however, is an absolutely phenomenal example of Burning Love at its best, featuring traded-off Southern licks following a piss and vinegar verse, all of which leads to a great bridge and a powerhouse conclusion. Colohan’s lyrics here are masterful, reading like a love note to the grueling life of a hard-touring band: “Do you think so much of wood and steel? Only life and death are real, and fuck the rest.” The song closes with simple, perfectly honest words: “I just want to be with my friends tonight, and tomorrow they can take the rest.”
More than anything else, Rotten Thing to Say is just a hell of a lot of fun, even when Burning Love is grinding its way through the world’s seamy underbelly. When the songs are over, there’s not a ton left to hang on to, so the only thing to do is spin it again and dive once more into this dense but accessible tangle of lived-in words. Only life and death are real.
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