Buckcherry is special for a lot of reasons, but the main reason of note is that they’re one of the very few modern bands that have really captured that great sleazy 80’s-era L.A. sound made so popular by bands like Guns n’ Roses and LA Guns. They aren’t putting on an homage to the era and style of music; they’re simply one of those bands.
The band has gone through lineup changes after breaking up completely back in 2002, but Josh Todd on vocals and the neverending riffs of Keith Nelson have kept the band on track regardless of what other changes happened internally or externally as far as what’s popular musically. The band’s first three albums, Buckcherry, Timebomb, and 15, are near hard rock classics with two cuts from 15 (“Crazy Bitch,” “Sorry”) making that album the band’s most popular to date. Their fourth album, Black Butterfly wasn’t as strong as the previous releases and it made me wonder if they had run their course musically. The most popular song on that album, titled “Too Drunk,” was actually replaced with a Deep Purple cover when the album was re-issued. Then we got All Night Long, which was a return to form as far as album oriented music from the band goes. Most of the songs on the album, not just the singles, were great just like those first two albums.
The band’s newest release is titled Confessions, which might lead you to believe that they’re sharing something new with us with these songs. I actually wasn’t expecting that to be the case since these guys are so steeped in an era of music where one song representing women as playthings or worse was slapped on an album right beside a radio friendly love song. I honestly don’t need some deeper meaning from Buckcherry, they’ve always represented fun to me, especially since I grew up in the era of Guns N’ Roses and am just happy to hear this energetic music that’s nostalgic for me. After listening to the new album several times I can report that they mostly seem to be singing about what they’ve always sung about, sex to be specific and occasionally love. Again, this isn’t a bad thing because these guys don’t pretend to be more than they are. The lyrics, like the guitar riffs are hooky and they stick in your mind after listening to them. If you’re into this sort of retro hard rock you’ll probably be humming some of these songs when you aren’t listening to the album.
Perhaps the best thing to be said about Confessions is that it should sit in your playlist comfortably beside 15, and that’s a good thing. There are some truly relentless riffs under Todd’s raspy vocal here and the radio friendly ballads don’t feel like cheap money grabs similar to something Poison would have done in the 80s. Perhaps one of the best slow songs titled “Sloth” in fact is anything but a typical romantic ballad but it features a catchy melody, an epic “Don’t You Cry” sort of arrangement, and a beautifully executed harmonizer-laden guitar solo. Young fans that don’t pay a lot of attention to lyrics will probably mistake this one for a love ballad.
The band does experiment with different sounds and textures while still existing within their expected hard rock roots though. The outcome are some great tunes like “Pride” that bring in a little hollow sort of 50’s influenced guitar tone and chord choices. These little nuances are so appreciated because it keeps the music from becoming predictable or even worse pedestrian. “Lust” is pretty much lyrically about what you think it’s about, but it’s just so driving with ballsy guitars and solid rhythm that it’ll probably make you break the speed limit if you listen in the car. The final track on the album feels like one of those bonus acoustic tracks just seemed last minute. “Dreamin’ of You” is definitely the weakest track on the album, but even this one is sweet enough that your girlfriend will probably like it. Obviously Keith is having fun with this 50’s hollow body sound that always makes me think fat Gretch guitars because we get a little solo with it in this tune too. The single, “Gluttony,” had me worried because it felt a little stock for the band, especially compared to the rest of the album. “Wrath” would have been a much cooler first single.
Yup there’s tons of bad language, sometimes to a gratuitous degree, and other times it just comes off as normal for Todd. Lyrically he’s not singing about much new in the way of subject, but he brings us great hooks and catchy melodies. Confessions is a fun album full of retro L.A. goodness with a little extra meat on the bone here and there to keep us coming back for more and more. In other words, this is another great Buckcherry album. It may seem like a great pairing to have Buckcherry opening for Kid Rock on their current tour, but I’d much rather see the band opening for a group like AC/DC.