CD Review of Slick Dogs and Ponies by Louis XIV
Recommended if you like
The Killers, Electric Six, Von Bondies
Label
Atlantic
Louis XIV:
Slick Dogs and Ponies

Reviewed by Jim Washington

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T
he bad boys of Louis XIV sounded like world-famous rock stars having the time of their lives on their debut album, 2005’s The Best Little Secrets are Kept. That album, from its lovely cover featuring a nude lady with the song titles written down her back, to the strutting, oversexed lyrics of songs such as “Finding Out True Love Is Blind,” “Louis XIV,” and “Illegal Tender,” was the sound of a rock band having a blast, just as they should. Singer Jason Hill came off like a hornier mix of Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart and Steven Tyler.

Good stuff, if you could roll with lyrics like “Hey chocolate girl, you look like something I want / And your little Asian friend, she can come if she wants.” These guys were banned from the state of Alabama, for Pete’s sake. That’s rock and roll! But now, it seems, the party’s over. On the band’s follow-up, Slick Dogs and Ponies, Hill poses this query: “Why do I have to be such a drag?”

Excellent, excellent question. Much of the fun has been bleached out of the band, and the song that question kicks off, “Free Won’t Be What It Used to Be,” is a good example of what’s gone wrong. The tune is drenched in “Day in the Life”-style reverb and strings – a trick they return to a couple of times, actually – and it sounds like a band trying to be much, much more than what they are.

This album is, in a word, a downer. Songs like “Stalker,” “Misguided Sheep,” “Hopesick,” and “Swarming of the Bees” seem to be about how the sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle has let them down. There’s nothing wrong with a band taking a dark turn or trying to mature, but Louis XIV seem particularly ill-suited to go that route. It’s like Andrew W.K. putting out a concept album about global warming or something. Good for you, dude, but come on.

It’s not all gloom and doom. Songs like the title track and “There’s a Traitor in This Room,” which features the lyrics “You just might make a cheater out of me / Glass on the carpet, your legs on the couch / And all you want is my love in your mouth” hearken back to the good old days. I’ll say it: There ain’t a damn thing wrong with a band making a career out of ripping off the Rolling Stones and singing about screwing hot babes. Aerosmith did it. Why not stick with what you know?

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