If I'd downloaded this album from the beloved Torrent Sphere then I would have assumed it was a fake leak, uploaded by some bored, pimpled-faced teenager from Middle-America as a joke. After all, seven of the twelve songs featured here also appear on the group's 2008 debut, We Don't Belong Here. Around them, the clever little Pirate Bay life member has slotted some unknown titles, presumably just rejected b-sides and/or unfinished demos.
But, alas, this is not a fake. The album, which was originally intended to be a re-packaged version of their debut skewed for the US market, is basically a mix of the standout tracks from the group's career to date, combined with a handful of specifically recorded newbies to create a "much more complete record" [record executive voice].
This intention isn't at all hidden away, but the fact this record is just a do-over doesn't really bother me that much. After all, music is a fucking business ya'll. Roll the dice. Punch the clock. Grind when you gotta grind. Live a little.
No, my beef here is that so much of what makes Violent Soho what they are has been so unashamedly ripped out. Gone is the smash-your-cunt-up, drunk/stoned, mid-90s flashback, house party train-wreck. In it's place is a clinically precise Grunge 2.0 production style, a perfectly balanced rock chart record and just enough throwback references to make it a comfortable ride. In other words - a completely contrived pile of shit.
Some level of spit and polish was to be expected considering the band are attempting to crack the fickle North American market, but the re-recorded We Don't Belong Here songs sound like they've been dragged up backwards through Christina Aguilera's vagina, licked clean by Justine Timberlake, smacked with an Usher Muzzle (tm), endorsed by Pepsi-Cola and trademarked by the iDad synthetic sperm donation service. You can almost hear the clipboards being tapped as the scientists of the Successful Rock Music laboratory study grunge revivalists' reaction to each of the songs.
The fresh material isn't much better either. The sludgy ball-scraping opener, Here Be Dragons, is the best of the lot and it's hard punching, no prisoners approach perfectly fits the track one slot. And that's the fucking problem! This is all just too refined, too predictable, precise and calculated. And just too much like a fucking 'product'.
For a band that has successfully fought off critics claiming they are just another Australian genre-forgery opportunism this is an extremely disappointing record. It's soulless and almost completely void of any of the unrestrained explosiveness which made We Don't Belong Here such a enjoyable frolic through the beautiful world of flannel, torn jeans and piss-stained couches. I long for the old, passionate and exciting Violent Soho. But I'm afraid they've already trekked too far away and aren't planning to look back anytime soon.