Norway - Full Moon 116 - 03/15/06
It's been 20 years since DumDum Boys' first single and 8 years since their last album. They've long since been kings of Norwegian rock, mainly due to their golden era from 1988 till the mid 90s. And they're of course included in an imaginary Norwegian rock hall of fame. All of a sudden (well, it's been 8 years, but some of them have been doing other things - side projects and solo efforts) the 'old boys' are back with an album of their old-school energy-rock (Aerosmith riffs meets Iggy Pop rock, with a leg in the old, catchy power-punk-pop camp). Last album, 1998's Totem, didn't get a too good reception. Will their 8th album bring them back with a vengeance, back on their throne?
Gravitasjon (Gravity) kicks off with a signature DumDum Boys rocker, "Lunta brenner" (Fuse is burning), followed by yet another DumDum rock song, "Gå på vannet" (Walk on water). They're both penned by main song-writer, guitarist Kjartan Kristiansen. Kristiansen has always been the "brains" (don't get me wrong, they've all got brains!) of the band, writing almost everything they've recorded. With a cunning pen (as well as an ear for catchy riffs and hooks, and a neat melody), he's been throwing laid-back, street-wise lyrical one-liners. He's been juggling, dribbling with a word-play refreshing the Norwegian (rock) language, presenting rock poetry often with a double-edge twist - often quite semi-cryptical - tongue in check, eyes wide shut. And he's got the perfect mate singing his lyrics in front man Prepple, the "muscular force" of the band. Prepple's got all that a front singer needs for serious action, especially when 'live' (and kicking).
Animal magic, tough and cool, bursting with raw-power sex-fueled energy and a pure, '24 carat' charisma. Of course the rest of the band fits in well, with Sola (on drums, who released a solo EP last year: Verdens beste trommis - in English: World's greatest drummer ! As an ode to John Bonham! Hooray!) being as steady as ever, bass man (and song-writer) Aslak Dørum, (who joined the band after their 4th album, Transit) and fifth man, Atle Karlsen (keyboards). Back in my fan-maniac days (mid-to-ebb-of-80s) I never understood why they should bring in keyboards. I've still got problems with the appearance and sound
of'em, but on the album's first single choice, the instant DumDum Boys classic "Enhjørning" (Unicorn), he shows some delicate and discreet work. Guess I'll have to admit he's had something to say for some of the band's milder sounding songs over the years.
Gravitasjon is 11 songs in 39 minutes, and most of the album is a jolly good listen. No sensations, just plain feel-good rock DumDum Boys style. You know what you get. 'Usual suspects' from a band who's been dominating Norwegian rock for years, adrenalin-pumped rock-parties and sing-along chants is what they can and want, not inventing wheels or anything. Some songs are not top-notch, and most of the riffs, the sound, the beat and rhythms, even the lyrics, are quite what to expect from this band. There's a certain DumDum Boys attitude from track one, which is charming and leaving this feeling of seeing an old friend. Dørum's (who put out his solo debut last year) first song on the album, "Tynn tråd" (Thin string), is a bit too soft and bleak. "Takke faen" (Thanks f***) works better, being his angry song of the record (even though it's not as angry as previous ones). The title track is reminiscent to the title song of their Transit album. Apparently the "trad." DumDum rock songs still works the better, such as "Seig jævel" (Tough bastard). The album's closing song is the quiet "Waltzheimer", written by Karlsen/Dørum. And it's working quite well, as a calm down moment, before spinning the cd once more. Because, yes, it's quite a cool album. Nothing brilliant or out-standing, but it really feels good and refreshing to listen to DumDum Boys again, and think back to some sweaty concerts a long time ago. I bet they'll sell a lot of records, and tour all over Norway once more. 'Splitter piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine, splitter pine....'
Copyright © 2006 Håvard Oppøyen