Nancy Vandal - Flogging A Dead Phoenix

Curmudgeonly old git alert: this is a fun-time, par-tay CD but is being reviewed by a world-weary misanthrope. The reviewer can’t even be bothered beginning with something akin to ‘Like the eponymous phoenix, Nancy Vandalis a band that continues to rise from the...’ – well, you get the drift.

This release and its accompanying national tour (which includes Soundwave 2014) celebrates twenty years of Vandalism. Although they formed in the ‘90s, the band draws its inspiration from the punk and pub rock of the ‘70s. The first track sets the scene with a short, juvenile comedy skit in which Love Commander Ajax from the planet Sex urges the musicians to step up their plan to destroy Earth with rock’n’roll. It’s not funny enough to justify repeated listenings, so I usually skip to the next song. This is the title track – a strutting rocker that reeks of Bon Scott era AC/DC.

The songs and their titles are full of humour (for example: ‘A Nurofen From my Euro Friend’). Nancy Vandal aren’t about subtlety or musical experimentation. They put together recklessly fast rock that follows tried and true rules that work every time. Good use is made of alternate male/female shouty vocals and solos are tailor-made for air guitarists.

Just as you’re beginning to tire of the guitar onslaught, brass crashes in on ‘Fingering Chart’. Humour reaffirms itself on ‘Hot Pants Nation’ (‘Get ‘em on and get it on tonight!’). More brass riffing lifts ‘Still Got It’. Gilli Pepper’s snotty singing and sudden backing vocal cries of ‘Knees up! Knees up!’ make this my favourite song. Clocking in at 3 minutes it is also one of the longer numbers. Nancy Vandal believes in punk brevity. They squeeze 14 breakneck tracks into a breathless 37 minutes.

‘Desmond Manchild’ is another highlight. Punctuated by tasty drum and bass interludes, this also carries a whiff of Acca Dacca. The solo declines the wail for a refreshing touch of rhythm. The last track, ‘We Fucked This City on Rock and Roll’ is, surprisingly, acoustic. A nice way to end.

Anyone who enjoys gratuitous obscenity will be pleased to note that the CD packaging comes with a ‘hand crafted bonus swear word’. It’s scrawled in pen on the back. This is such a personal gesture that I am loathe to confess the one that was bequeathed to me. It fosters a very real and intimate connection with the band, and it would seem like betrayal to reveal it.

Oh, all right. It was ‘Ass Wipe’.
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