Randy -- Welfare Problems (Burning Heart / Epitaph)
Over the years one may have chalked up the success of acts such as The Hives, Refused, or their later incarnation The International Noise Conspiracy as gaining notice by deviating from their original style and being the forefront of popularising the recent garage influenced Rock N' Roll revival. It seems to have come more naturally to some then others with Europe, or more specifically Sweden still surfacing miles ahead of what is created here on average. Randy has ironically been one of the overshadowed acts for quite some time, based primarily on the popularity of their counterparts from the same region.
"Welfare Problems" is the second full length for Randy on independent juggernaut Burning Heart (Epitaph for us in North America) and the follow up to their groundbreaking 2001 opus "The Human Atom Bombs." They've come a long way since the release of 1994's "There No Way We're Gonna Fit In," but after your sixth long play effort (ninth release in total) you're generally bound for some form of progression.
Following suit with their last three endeavours they've once again recruited famed producer Pelle Gunnerfeldt of the legendary Studio Grandahl (minus "Cheap Thrills" which was tackled by Jocke Ahlund), whose recent production credits include The International Noise Conspiracy and The Hives to name a few. In very 'do-it-yourself' fashion they even went so far as to personally help him build the studio previous to recording their last effort. The over all feel of their last two releases are different from their past recordings but still manically energetic and pay off in much the same regard as The Hives' landmark "Veni, Vidi, Vicious" album.
Lyrically they have aligned themselves on more of a reflective personal level as opposed to overt socially conscious issues, which may serve as the greatest change from their previous formula. They are not completely rid of their conviction however as they do tackle some of the usual anarchistic jive on songs "Dirty Tricks" and "A Man In Uniform." One of the most endearing qualities of this Swedish quartet is that they are not afraid to showcase their quirky and fun side along with the harsh reality of their concerns; "Cheap Thrills" is one of the greater examples on this album.
Randy have managed to embrace the savvy aspects of their influences concentrated mainly in the late seventies acts like the Buzzcocks, Cheap Trick, Motorhead, and even the Ramones with this release. As far as the Rock N' Roll genre is concerned this is one of the most underrated records of last year. Not to mention that the song "X-Ray Eyes" included on the album, rivals and is certainly on par with "Hey Ya" by Outkast for best song of the year, in my humble opinion. If you are a fan of the garage punk fiasco or anything you've heard from them in recent history you'll be sure to enjoy it thoroughly.
Chris "Rose City" O'Toole