Backyard Babies really are a hugely important band to me, not least because when they released their sophomore LP ‘Total 13’ back in 1998 they almost single-handedly rescued me from the ocean of musical blandness I was drowning myself in. That album (along with releases by The Hellacopters and Rocket From The Crypt) threw me a lifeline so to speak. The awesome power of ‘Total 13’ gave me exactly the same buzz I had when I first heard ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ and ‘Appetite For Destruction’ and the BYBs gigs I attended that immediately followed this release merely cemented my L.U.V for the Swedes as my new favourite band.
I’ll admit that sitting here in 2019 a lot of sleaze rock water has passed under the bridge since those early days, and my previous undying love for anything Nicke, Dregen, Peder and Johan touched has subsequently been replaced by something largely approaching indifference. I got to this place after attending a series of what I feel were “going through the motions” live shows that certainly didn’t come anywhere near the sheer adrenaline blast of those ‘Total 13’ gigs and after their self imposed five year career hiatus I defy anyone to tell me that ‘Four By Four’ was the best the band could have come up with for their return.
After hearing ‘Shovin’Rocks’ the lead track from ‘Sliver & Gold’ at another, what I would call, “lackluster” show from the band at Hellfest 2018 I was starting to think I might have to give album number eight from the guys a miss, and owning pretty much everything else the band has released (and on multiple formats too) this isn’t something I say with any great relish I can assure you. What I hadn’t counted on though was one truly exceptional headline set at HRH Sleaze where even ‘Shovin’Rocks’ started to get inside my head, and yup, you guessed it, the Limited Edition LP & CD version of ‘Sliver & Gold’ was duly pre-ordered.
By now I bet you’re wondering what is this 10 track album (one that Nicke Borg refers to as their “most intense and furious album to date”) actually like then H Bomb?
Opener ‘Good Morning Midnight’ (which was also the second track to be previewed in the run-up to the album release) is a great place to start not just because it’s the first track but because its easily one of the best songs the band have written since the ‘Making Enemies Is Good’ album and this return to form continues into ‘Simple Being Sold’ another track that has Nicke spitting out the lyrics just like he did two decades ago.
‘Shovin’ Rocks’ is up next and whilst it will never be my favourite Backyard Babies track it actually fits in well here plus it’s always good to hear Dregen trading lead vocals with Borg. ‘Ragged Flag’ meanwhile is a jaunty little call and response number full of piratey goodness whilst the poptastic ‘Yes To All No’ sees the band following an almost BOC meets Boston direction something that has the band’s fellow countryman Tobias Forge written all over it.
‘Bad Seed’ sees the BYBs returning to the anthemic style of ‘Brand New Hate’ whilst the Dregen lead ’44 Undead’ (which was album preview number three) possesses a sub-zero coolness about it that should have diehard fans chomping at the bit.
It’s worth mentioning at this point the super sharp production from Chips Kiesbye which literally sparks with electricity during the album’s title track complete with its Space Ace lead break which along with ‘Day Late In My Dollar Shorts’ that follows brings the record to a thundering conclusion. Well almost.
What does actually close the LP is something akin to Sweden’s answer to ‘November Rain’- namely ‘Laugh Now Cry Later’ – a track clocking in at just over 6 minutes that goes absolutely nowhere. Which is a shame really as ‘Sliver & Gold’ up to this point was looking like the BYBs might have finally exorcised their previous musical misgivings.
If at this point you’re thinking of taking the plunge and getting the Limited Edition LP/CD version I mentioned earlier (or the first press deluxe CD) then you’re not finished just yet, as with these versions you also get five acoustic reworkings of some of the band’s back catalogue, the pick of which for me being ‘Th1rt3en Or Nothing’ which actually proves that behind that truly horrible cowbell loop a very good song was always there just waiting to get out.
Look, all joking aside I’ll never be able to thank Backyard Babies enough for rescuing me from a world full of middle of the road shite back in the late 90s and to think that the band who saved me from that fate might be heading that way themselves really hurt me like hell. I accept that they will probably never record a ‘Total 13 (Part II) as to survive a band needs to move forward not be constantly looking over their shoulder. With ‘Sliver & Gold’ then I do feel the guys have gone somewhere to restoring the balance between the spirit of their younger angrier selves and the more responsible adults they have become, I just wish someone would tell Nicke to stop writing the fucking ballads.
Buy Silver & Gold Here
Author: Johnny Hayward