Well! My my my. Let’s take a head count of the biggest names in the way overhyped “garage band” revival: the Hives, the Strokes, the White Stripes (Lee Michaels with Frosty rocked harder), the Vines, the Yeah Yuppy Yups, and about 17 lesser lights. (I understand at least seven people stateside like Sweden’s Mando Diao.)
Funny thing happened on the way to the music store, though: This mongrel untrendy debut album, Get Born by Australia’s drunk-brothers quartet Jet, has leapfrogged that aforementioned litter, is certified gold and climbing, and most tellingly has scored the first “garage band” radio Top 20 hit single on CHR-Pop (also climbing at press time).
Now, if you heard/saw only that hit single and video (“Are You Gonna Be My Girl”), you probably yelled at your TV: “Hey! Didn’t the Music Machine veto that riff for a failed fifth single four decades ago?” (No, but you’re correct in theory. Utterly inexplicable, seeing the song up there in the radio charts alongside Hilary Duff, Beyoncé, OutKast, and how can we forget Britney and Jessica?)
And ohhh yeah, there is a lot to dislike about the first 7/13 of this album. Overblown singing, riffs that don’t quite click, and jesus, talk about a ballad fixation (five total, in just 13 tunes) . . . tracks number 4 and 6 and 7 on my vinyl pressing are pure late-’60s/’70s ballad-y “why??? why???” skip-it cuts. To be fair, “Look What You’ve Done” ‘s lazy Badfinger/Beatles shtick isn’t terrible, and could be a hit. But as for that acoustic-y folksy late-’60s Rolling Stones Beggar’s Banquet style these guys obviously love to croon, to paraphrase Simon Cowell: “It’s just personal taste—and I think what you just did, sucks.”
Big surprise, though, when you flip this 12-inch offering over. Three almost consecutive tunes (“Get Me Outta Here,” “Take It or Leave It,” and “Cold Hard Beyotch,” separated by another Rolling Stones folksy thing that’s not as bad as the others) rock like the best Aussie hard rock: ringing open AC/DC chords, stomping (mostly) mid-tempo riffs, guitars that clank and grind like rumbling mini-tanks, and shouted vocals that’re what Humble Pie wish they’d sounded like in 1971. Man, “Take It or Leave It” even rocks at a kill-the-animals speed that’s similar to and as fast as anything on High Voltage.
That’s a very good thing, and it gets better. Right after this triptych, “Lazy Gun” throws down a first-rate T-Rex shuffle riff (think “Baby Strange”) minus the Bolan feyness, but plus the appropriate kooky background Flo & Eddie vocal noises. Man! Possibly the album’s best track, and another possible radio and MTV hit. I’m gonna award the “eclectic” bonus points for that one, fair and square, even if a full half of their eclectic lunchbag of tricks are on my “get it outta here, now” shortlist.
Y’know, I’m having some little redux flashbacks with this album. I’ve been here before. The best tunes here have that boys’-club vibe of the best early-to-mid-’70s hard-rock bands, dead-on and nailed. Or to put it in mainstream parlance: This album is definitely more listenable (as in rocking) than Aerosmith’s Rocks, though not as much as Toys in the Attic or the vastly underrated, crude-and-rude Draw the Line.
Yeah (speaking as a fervent ’80s Lyres/Pandoras, Jeff Conolly/Paula Pierce fan—the old-school sound, man!), I wish the rest of those “garage rock” peeps mentioned above would whack their foreheads hard (and think, “I wonder how much I could get if I pawned this guitar?”). But I’d give even money that Get Born (six months old now) will be a multi-platinum monster by the time the dust settles around Christmas. And you can take that out of the garage and bank it.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 6, 2004