If Paramore had a bratty estranged cousin, weaned on the glitz and sleaze of early 1980s Sunset Strip hard rock with a bohemian, East Village sensibility, that band would be Scranton’s Sucker. On this, the three-piece’s first full-length studio record (they released an EP, “On My Love,” just about a year ago), the band hits below the belt with infectious vocal harmonies, a punk/metal hybrid guitar slather, and refreshingly analog-sounding production value that enables each song to leave a devilishly disheveled smudge.
Tracks that made the cut from the EP like “Circus” maintain a darkly progressive streetcore edge, the perfect correlation into brand new songs like “Dirty Secrets,” complete with shredding dual-guitar leads and daring double-bass drum fills. The song’s underlying playful perversity is augmented though Candi Vee’s rather demure vocals, rattling off with, “we know just what we would do, if trouble’s all we got into.”
“Fast Nights” is a party-in-a-box throwback to the best of ‘80s hair metal, with more of a stripped-down, underground tonality that makes it more Patti Smith on steroids than a pure dose of Poison. “Never Meant To” is a power ballad with a serious touch of coarse sentimentality – the track also features some of guitarist Janson Harris’s finest Yngwie Malmsteen-inspired arpeggiated runs. Drummer Timmy Prime fills out the sound nicely with his rather aggressive touch, yet exhibiting song-appropriate restraint.
“Amphetamine Queen” solidifies the band’s penchant for musical proficiency, as several rhythmic shifts and twists in the black-hearted tale are spot-on and should ingrain the trio with the more instrumentally inclined listeners in the crowd. Conversely, tracks like “Telephone” are compelling nods to psychedelic purveyors like the original Alice Cooper band – leading the listener to a self-musing zone-out until around the 3:45 mark, where all hell breaks loose. This is a band that purposely seems to enjoy distancing itself from any particular comfort zone.
Encompassing the best qualities of an illustrious 40 years of rock ‘n’ roll excess, with the wide-eyed approach of a come-lately punk insurgency, Sucker is pure attitude and five-fingered dynamism.
Sucker ‘Sucker’ Rating: W W W W W