The Judys: MORE
The year 2020 has had its heart blown out for six months as The Judys release their second album, MORE. The spread of COVID-19 around the world has seen the musicians’ world of live performances and touring in the deep freeze for an unknown duration. The streets of the world are erupting with protests of deaths at the hands of police. The far left has become the far right. Epistemological totalitarianism has become the mindset of the Woke Generation. The homeless pack the streets, and you gotta watch where you step. National economies have crashed with a road to recovery long distant in the future. A presidential campaign is taking on characteristics of civil war.
Among all this woe, a peppy little combo, The Judys, are re-establishing the primacy of rock’n’roll with More. The lyrics are timely, the compositions timeless. Music for adults in a time when matters of life and death are thrust upon all ages. None ready. But all clamoring for a beat, a guitar and voice to give them the strength to endure. More is nothing less than that.
Something in the Air: A killer. Some retro-goth in here, a bit Bauhaus-ish. Powerful guitar buzzing and slashing. Great rhythm section parts. The vocal treatments inspire visions of New Romantic vampires. It’s a straight ahead onslaught, say farewell to the first album’s power pop. “It’s darker than the first record,” says vocalist Dennis Mills. “The Judys have daemons that need to breathe.” From the first cut, we are put on notice. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.
Another Goddam Man: In the ever more segmented gender spectrum, there are those who will not adapt. This is an indictment of those for whom “… #MeToo was just a hiccup.” Standout is background vocalist Shelley Preston who brings the Mary Clayton-Gimme Shelter vibe more potency.
Goin’ Out West: A Tom Waits cover. Sludge bass from a swamp monster movie provides the boogie, which contrasts with soaring Eleanor Rigby backing vocals. Sorta the flip of the previous tune’s lyrical concerns.
Welcome to New York: An homage to Lou Reed’s stomping grounds powdered with cocaine. A dizzy backroom bit of sleaze that is MORE’s core masterpiece. Pulling chords from You Can’t Always Get What You Want and marrying them to a Velvet Underground thrum of a 1600-cc chopper. Then shouting, “Forgot all the stupid words to that old-fashioned drug song.” For all the overtones and underpinnings of sleaze, depravity and darkness, The Judys’ wit breaks up the waves of fear with the hilarious coke lyric: “Well, it all gets blurry, and your throat gets kinda furry and you think you might have ate the cat.”
Fucked Up: A nostalgic teen scenario out of Springsteen, an attitude from Iggy Pop, a kick of Bolan-esque guitar via AC/DC. “We were fucked up then, and life was just a bore. We were doing what we want and we just want more… More MORE MORE!” And a heartland anthem is born.
The Whole World’s on Drugs: There is a drugs-in-everyday-life theme running throughout this disk. “You can roll it, you can lick it, you can find it on the ground. Some people falling in love; some people falling down ….” Mills’s voice is a sneer of derision with no judgement. Lou Reed-style deadpan reportage from the underworld.
Best Before: A huge, slow blues stomp that thunders on betrayal, the death of friendship, the death of friends, the end of optimism and the end of potential for this lifetime.
Les Wiseman, 2020.
MORE is a different album than The Very Best of The Judys. While The Judys concerns last time were aging and its assorted peccadilloes that gave the lyrics a self-effacing humour, the music was driving mutant power pop, MORE is a requiem for a dream. A druggy high sign to the wonders of youthful dissipation. In a time of so much disruptive change, The Judys have revealed a darker, more jaded, askance view at the situation and crawled out of the mire in a more powerful, metallic form full of huge chords and riffs. The sound of an apocalypse already in progress.