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How is it possible for an Asylum Street Spankers album to feel rushed?
After last year’s Hot Lunch, which ran the gamut from emotionally poignant to downright silly, Spanker Madness seems somewhat narrow.
Of course, Spanker Madness is the Asylum Street Spankers’ stab at a concept album — songs devoted to that most fashionable of weeds, marijuana. A pretty gutsy for a group that is all concept.
But this time around, the Spankers’ usual brand of highly entertaining, all-acoustic vaudeville comes across as flat.
The band doesn’t jam as much on this album as previous efforts, and the songwriting, while still all over the geographical map of America, doesn’t seem to live up to the potential of its subject matter.
Guy Forsyth’s political tale, “Take the Heat,” sticks out like a sore thumb next to the bouciness of Christina Marrs’ “Wake and Bake” or Wammo’s caustic “Winning the War on Drugs.” Forsyth also performs the song with a husky baritone that lacks the character of his previous Spanker contributions.
And while the band burns on “High as You Can Be,” its usual extended solos are truncated on this album. The album clocks in at a somewhat unsatisfying 42 minutes.
The engineers on this album also failed to capture the group’s essence. Compared to the intimately lo-fi Spanks for the Memories and the lush polish of Hot Lunch, Spanker Madness sounds dull. Listeners can barely feel the impact of the “chorus and ascent to righteousness” in “Winning the War on Drugs.”
But before you think this Asylum Street Spanker album sucks, just remember — even a bad Spanker album is still pretty cool.