Social Distortion–Mike Ness’ louder side–is eternal. The music that they make doesn’t necessarily evolve much; occasionally it’s faster and noisier, occasionally its slower and more melodic, but they always sound exactly like Social Distortion. I consider that a good thing.
After the eight years since their last studio album, fans might have worried that the new album might sound dated or that the chemistry just wouldn’t be the same. The worriers would have been wrong. Sex, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll is quite possibly my favorite Social D album.
Mike Ness, as a sort of blue collar punk poet, writes some of his best lyrics here and the music hasn’t lost an ounce of its catchy power in the intervening years. The album opens with a bang on “Reach for the Sky” and keeps the energy running through the entire album. Every song is a familiar friend–reminiscent of previous music but still fresh and compelling.
The only song that came as a letdown was “Faithless” and the closing “Angel’s Wings” left me feeling a little apathetic. The rest, though, stands as some of the best music that this band has ever made–an aggressive, mature new album that is sure to make the fans happy. The great thing about Mike Ness is that what you see is what you get.
The music is honest and straight ahead rock and the lyrics match up well. He never has that sly, cynical grin that you expect from someone like Green Day; Ness seems to be more of a true believer in the power of rock to make a difference. If not in politics, then in a more personal manner. He doesn’t sound overly impressed with himself and he doesn’t sound like someone with too much in the way of pretensions–he just sounds like a friend who happens to make great music.
For old Social Distortion and Mike Ness fans, this is a must. But all fans of rock music will likely find something here to make them smile and turn up the sound. It was worth the wait–but, if we’re lucky, we won’t have to wait quite so long next time. Now, I need to go listen to “Highway 101″ and “Don’t Take Me for Granted” as loud as my cube-mates will let me…