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The cock-rockin’ Kiwis of the Datsuns play music the way Ron Jeremy humps: fast, angry, and covered in a frightening quantity of hair. The unsubtle similarities don’t end there. Neither the spry headbangers nor the saggy Hedgehog cares a whit whether women enjoy the exertions: These derelict dudesall seemingly stuck in the questionably groomed ’70sare propelled by single-minded male satisfaction. They’re also well aware that if they weren’t in show business, they wouldn’t get any action at all. So the ugly goons keep on hammering away, grunting below-the-belt battle cries, and hoping like hell they can keep it up.
Unlike bones-jumper Jeremy, however, the Datsunshometown heroes in Cambridge, New Zealand; currently the toast of the U.K.; and quite possibly the Next Big Thing over thisaway, toodo what they do without the slightest slimy smirk. On their self-titled debut long-player, recorded in a studio that was most certainly walled in fake-wood paneling, the Datsuns are dead-set on re-creating the sideburned sleaze of Mountain, Deep Purple, and AC/DC. This is oughta-be-extinct Mesozoic classic rock, a malodorous mélange of pot smoke, sweat socks, and jeans that haven’t been washed since the Ford administration. If you’re looking for modern touches, well, you might be able to find a little Axl grease lubing “At Your Touch,” and the thrusting funk-punker “Lady” sounds sorta like the Hives bedecked in dirty fringe.
Aside from occasional nods to both the Sunset Strip circa mid-Us Decade and the Swedish garages of last year, though, the Datsuns prefer things the way they were before the Six Million Dollar Man met Bigfoot. They signal the next phase in the recent evolution of rock ‘n’ roll: from hair metal to grunge to pop-punk to rap-metal to garage to this bit of bell-bottomed time travel. The crotch-centric lyrics are as nuanced as boys’-room graffiti, the drums get pounded as hard as possible, and the high-voltage rawk riffs are a good way to get tinnitus. A lumbering, fuzzed-out batch o’ slop, The Datsuns is about as nutritious as a Big Gulp of bong water.
Taking a cue from the Ramones, frontman/bassist Dolf de Datsun, lead guitarist Christian Datsun, drummer Matt Datsun, and guitarist Phil Datsun front as a burned-out band of brothers, the kind of doped-up dudes who hung out by that primer-patched van parked catty-corner from your high school. They may look scary, but after you spend a little time with them, you realize they’re kinda cute, really dumb, and totally harmless. Case in point: On “MF From Hell”basically “Smoke on the Water” at quadruple timethe guitars (all 666 of ’em!) jackhammer in unison as Dolf scrapes his throat to tell us how a no-good woman made him “feel…like a motherfucker from hell.” The lead shrieker sounds crazier than a shithouse rat, his wail hovering somewhere between a castrated Brian Johnson and a beheaded Cher. But come on: “MF From Hell”? That’s not threatening; that’s downright cuddly.
Just because they act like complete lunkheads, however, doesn’t mean these horny devils don’t know their shit. And they can play, too, thrashing about as if their mullets were on fire. In fact, their success stems from how well they mimic their guitar heroes. On “Fink for the Man,” behold the history of lead-with-your-pecker ax solos, a tutorial that stretches from a goose-hopping Angus Young to “Eruption”-era Eddie Van Halen. The song breaks down into a boogie-strut Allmans homage before turning into the kind of neck-flopping frenzy that used to signal Rob Halford that it was time to steer his Harley centerstage. If that sounds like an unholy mess, it is. And it’s great.
A little of the Datsuns goes a looong way, of course, but you can get your air-guitar fix on any of the 10 tracks here. With the exception of a bored-bad-girls backing chorus on album-opener “Sittin’ Pretty” and some Rainbow-style keyboards on “In Love,” there isn’t a whole lotta musical diversity to be found. Full-throttle guitar rumble is the only style these guys really know, and each songs unspools in roughly the same way: Start with a hook, add some drums, throw in a bit of screeching and a little noodling, and on to the next one. The cowbell finally shows up on the bar-bluesy “What Would I Know” (“Come on, baby, baby, baby/Don’t deny/You got me standing at the end of your line”), which is perfect road-trip music if you’re on your way to a Sugarloaf reunion at Jaxx.
There’s always the chance that the Datsuns are pulling our collective third leg. After all, they worship a middle-aged man who still wears a schoolboy uniform. And their stoopid lyrics are meant for guys who haven’t had a date in years and prefer to fill the loneliness with guttural singalongs. (“It’s been 16 days since I’ve seen your ass,” Dolf wails on the inanely fun “Harmonic Generator,” a song that equates a woman to shitty musical equipment.) Plus, the boys just might be trying to tell us something on six-minute disc finale “Freeze Sucker,” a mind-blowing tribute to their hard-rockin’ influences that, after about 15 guitar solos, briefly transforms into what sounds like an oh-so-pretty sound-check sample of “Melissa.” It’s a patch of blinding blue sky that seems almost too beautiful for these rainy-day-in-the-basement dudes. Then again, there’s “MF From Hell.” But who cares, really?: Either way, the Datsuns are a great way to spend a bachelor party. CP