If the Backyard Babies best-of Tinnitus actually gives you tinnitus, haul your ringin’-eared litigious ass to the offices of the various producers and mixers who helped out. It was they, after all, who made every element of the Swedish group so loud that you can barely hear any smokin’ guitar or drum fills, and possibly they who excised any extraneous hooks or riffs that might distract from the purposefully chorded songs. From ’98 to ’03, these board yaks, including stoner stalwart Joe Barresi and dark metal deity Tomas Skogsberg, smoothed everything to a dubious consistency. Sadly, the BBs’ songs don’t help, as they only fall into two distinguishable camps: frowny Lars/Bastards philosophical anthems with fewer tunes or knife fights; and smiley would-be sitcom themes about “Friends” and a “Brand New
Hate.” The band finally rests on the Sabbath-y grinder “One Sound,” but that title succinctly sums up the problem.
Two Backyard songs sound better on the Liquor and Poker label sampler, which you get free with the band’s album and which runs the stylistic gamut from Mot rhead-y punk (Brand New Sin) to Hanoi Rocks–y punk (Hanoi Rocks) to stoned Taoist thud punk (Nebula’s mythic “So It Goes”). Overall, the promo plays more like a ballad-less classic- rock station, with Crash Kelly stealing Thin Lizzy’s guitar screech and the Dirty Americans channeling an unwashed Lenny Kravitz—a Black Rock Coalition Revival! In this vibrant context, you can spot the Babies as “that group that just plays the chords and has so-so melodies and English lyrics like ‘On the road to a strict perfection . . . ‘ that make them sound Swedish.” Why guitarist Dregen left the pop-wise Hellacopters (whose “Carry Me Home” boasts actual vocal harmonies!) for the ‘Yards’ duller roar is behind the music and beyond me. Dregen’s band-hopping is the extent of the track-to-track incest here, rare for a label comp; but compared to the Matador one I heard last year, this comp’s a real motherfucker.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 2, 2005