Reviews

The Cramps

The Cramps debuted in 1978 with the album Lucky 13, and 25 years later their rockabilly-fed and horror movie-suckled swamp circus continues through a thirteenth studio album. Few peers can rival the Cramps for sheer dedication to a singular audio-visual aesthetic with themes and content (aliens, babes, drugs) that may seem superficial and thin yet, in their hands, comes off as fresh and fun.

Fiends of Dope Island bears the signature of a group that continues to improve and sharpen its technique, whether it is Lux Interior's rich, deep voice or the effortless sound of guitarist Poison Ivy Rorschach (who sounds especially alive on the swooning slow number "Taboo"). Interior's smart wordplay is striking on "She's Got Balls" when he croons, "They call her skinny Benzine/When pushin' pills comes to shove/All the boys are hooked/There's a logjam around her love/Thin as piss on a plate/And high as the sky above."

Appropriately, Fiends of Dope Island boasts thirteen songs in total, but the Cramps seem to pay special attention to the last selection, "Wrong Way Ticket," offering up their best technical playing. There the simple chord progressions that dominate the album get flung out the window in favor of loose-lipped riffs and more aggressive drums. In short, it's when all hell truly breaks loose. This Cramps album is basically the same shtick, different day, but still a sound that is ghoulishly delicious and firmly their own.

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Tamara Palmer