Remember back when a good song was a good song was a good song? Remember when a
good rock song wasn’t any more complex than a broken heart or unattainable lust?
The songwriting teams of Jagger/Richards and Tyler/Perry didn’t build careers on
force-feeding political opinions or social awareness or anything deeper than
what makes a hot girl hot. I miss that. I mean it is still acceptable to
think women are attractive, isn’t it?
Big Head Todd and The Monsters have gone over the top on their latest Crimes
of Passion to embrace the lost art of writing lusty rock songs. “She’s gonna
shock me now when she turns it loose, she’s got my electric house rockin’ now on
her dirty juice,” Todd abounds on the opener “Dirty Juice,” as stripped-down and
frenzied a riff-heavy ode to past rock icons as I’ve heard in sometime.
Crimes represents BHTM’s seventh studio venture, and while they choose not
to wander very far from the established course, the delivery of most of this
record is soulfully vibrant and pleasing. The good songs here, in short, are
plenty good. The brooding “Conquistador” recalls the Sister Sweetly era
more than anything else, while “Angela Dangerlove” goes a long way to flaunt
Todd Mohr’s effortless vocal range and ability to lullaby with a groove. I’ve
always felt his overly simplified guitar was a naturally perfect fit for his
voice. Whether a riff or a scream, neither one ever seems to get beyond what it
is capable of mastering.
Like the last couple of Big Head Todd records, Crimes of Passion is not
without its unremarkable components. “ICU in Everything” is drab and boring,
void of anything charming or even the slightest hook. Then there is the abysmal
“Drought of 2013,” a complete waste of album space that chops the record right
in half. The second half of this project doesn’t stack up to the first, as it
plays out more musically than lyrically. But the overall sum of the two parts is
worthwhile to even the casual listener, especially in a highly suspect new
release season. In the end, there is something to be said for the simplicity of
Todd Mohr and his gift for the lost art. “Love is a passionate crime, where only
the guilty survive,” he croons through “Beauty Queen,” as you ponder about what
ever happened to the best songs being the least complicated.