Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Plastic Fang

After the boring "connect the beats” exercise that was Acme, JSBX took three years to work at redeeming themselves with a new album. The result: a straight-ahead rock and roll werewolf-themed album with nary a drum machine in sight. Plastic Fang is comprised mainly of mid-tempo Stones-y material that sounds like the boys are losing the ability to take their shit fully over the top. Make no mistake, though, these guys are still some of the best players out there out there, it’s just that songs like "Sweet and Sour" simply don’t excite the way "Lovin’ Up A Storm" did a decade ago. In fact, the seemingly contrived slow simmer that they bash away at throughout the album creates an unpleasant tension that ultimately leaves the listener with the aural equivalent of blue balls. They get close to kicking out the jams with tracks like "Shakin’ Rock ’N’ Roll Tonight," but they just never seem to get up to full speed. It also might be time to let Russel and Judah sing a few too, because Jon’s voice is starting to show its narrow parameters as he tries to stretch out on songs like "Killer Wolf." All in all, Plastic Fang is a partially successful but overly long affair that would have benefited greatly from more trashy flash and less attempts at more serious "songwriting." (Matador)