Contrary to popular belief, the Spin Doctors never really went away. You may not
have heard anything from them since 1994, but their last album actually appeared
in 1999 (Here Comes the Bride). They spent at least the last three years with a
new dedication to the craft of songwriting and live performance, and scored an indie label deal for their troubles. The result is
Nice Talking to Me, and while
this record has a more fun-loving, tongue-in-cheek approach, it is easily their
best work to date. The Spin Doctors have a knack for writing catchy pop/rock
that borders on alternative, but stays firmly planted in the mainstream. If
these songs could get out of bed and dress themselves, they would choose a
t-shirt and jeans.
The title track kicks off this collection with all of the familiar elements that
made the Spin Doctors a pop sensation in the early ’90 – crunchy blues-driven
guitar riffs, a funky backbeat, addictive melodies, and the instantly familiar
vocal of front man Chris Barron. In “Sugar,” the Doctors seem to cram lots of
syllables and witty lyrics into 3-minute pop candy. “She’s so sweet/So sweet and
dandy/Soft like cake/And hard like candy” is the hook – simple yet crystal
clear. “Margarita” is more of the same, and has a party vibe that resembles
another fun time band, Smash Mouth. The lyrics are a beauty in this one too:
“Revenge is sweet/But success is sweeter/I took the salt from my wounds/And put
them in my margarita.” This is just proof that the band is having fun and not
slowing down anytime soon.
“I’d Like to Love You (But I Think You Might Be Crazy)” has a raw, haunting vibe
that is a throwback to ‘70s arena rock. Toward the end of this set there is a
lot of repetition melodically and rhythmically (“Genuine” and “Safety Pin”), and
“Tonight You Can Steal Me Away” has a Steve Miller quality about it. But by far
the biggest surprise is “Can’t Kick the Habit,” a ballad of sorts that validates
the Spin Doctors as not only a great rock and roll band, but one that can
successfully turn the volume down too.
Like a baseball team that puts on its fluffy white uniforms after a long road
trip, the Spin Doctors are looking good as they return home – and home for them
is the stage, where they continue to churn out quality rock music with mass
appeal. Let’s root, root, root for the home team.