REVIEW: ADAM ANT – ADAM ANT IS THE BLUEBLACK HUSSAR MARRYING THE GUNNER’S DAUGHTER…

adam ant - blueblack hussar

What. The. Hell?
Am I being punked? Is this *really* the new Adam Ant album? Look. I understand that Adam has dealt with serious mental problems in the vast timespan since 1995’s Wonderful. But why does this album sound so awful? Was there seriously nobody to take one listen to this album and say “Adam… we’ve gotta talk.”?
It was so promising too. A couple weeks back Adam dropped his first single, “Cool Zombie”. It was weird, creepy, not quite what we’re used to. But it was catchy as hell and somehow it worked. I’ve actually had the song stuck in my head quite a bit since then. So that starts the album, and then track two, “Stay in the Game” starts with some promise, but the instruments are all mixed badly, with really loud low bass, guitar that is milked down to only high pitch treble and everything regulated to a bad mono-sounding backdrop. The mix is hard on the ears but the song itself is not bad at all. Then “Marrying the Gunnar’s Daughter” is very electronic driven, very much early Nine Inch Nails inspired and then somewhere in the middle it’s like Adam just wandered away from the mic and kept singing not caring if we heard the song in his head or not. Damn shame really because it kills the song. We get to “Vince Taylor” and here’s where it just falls apart. The sound quality is wretched. The vocals just come and go and are so poor. This would be considered bad by even demo standards. It’s the kind of thing that would be on the end of a deluxe edition for historical context, but listened to only once. “Valentines” is where I’m ready to surrender already. It’s torture to listen to a chorus of out of tune badly overlaid vocal tracks. This makes “Vince Taylor” sound good by comparison.
“Darlin’ Boy” gets *even* worse. It’s just a track full of out of tune warbling. This sounds like a night of really horrible karaoke. It reminds me of some of those very early Beck demos where you try to listen, thinking my goodness what drug did he ingest before pressing record?
I feel like at this point I’m literally listening to somebody’s mind fall apart. It’s sort of like listening to a later period Syd Barrett recording. One of the bad ones where they were just panning for gold but coming up short. Except on Syd’s stuff you could at least understand the words and the producers made and attempt to make it all sound as good as possible. Not the case here.
“Punkyoungirl” offers some slight promise of a reprive with its electronic synth beat. Nope! Out of tune warbling and “lift up your skirt, let me lick the alphabet”. Seriously. The song sounds like an indie record art project gone horribly wrong. Then there’s “Sausage”. What the flying fuck? It’s just mumbling with out of tune… umm… “harmonizing”.
If we skip a few tracks ahead we get to “Shrink”. This is Adam Ant again showing his heavy Nine Inch Nails influence, but this track actually sounds produced. But then it falls apart with screeching out of tune singing. Dammit! Foiled again! The lyrics are “Your 15 minutes is up”.. and then later I can make out in the chorus “is it me or is it just medication?”
Then we get to “Who’s a Goofy Bunny?”. It has a country bar blues kinda feel and actually starts off sort of good. Then the chorus happens.. again tone-deaf-as-hell.
It’s fitting the second to the last song is called “Bullshit”. Somehow *this* of all songs is decent. Is this whole thing a prank? In fact this is the only song on the album that comes anywhere near to reminding me of the Adam Ant I grew up loving.
I really try to be the guy that finds something good in everything. I’m sure that Adam Ant had some great ideas buried under all of this. But over 75% of this album is simply unlistenable. I feel almost embarrassed for him because I’m sure he thinks he’s returning to glory. And I really wanted him to. But his voice is nowhere near ready. He needs at least one or two of his old co-conspirators back to help with the music production. At least a little bit of quality control. I want to feel joy when I listen Adam Ant, but this just makes me feel sad.
Now excuse me while I go blast “Vive Le Rock” and try to forget this experience ever happened.

Since there are no videos or youtube tracks other than “Cool Zombie”, here’s an interview Adam did about the album:

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5 comments

  1. Anonymous · · Reply

    this is a very good cd and it is great to have him back.

    1. That was a really well put article (Complimentary Champagne) and you really did justice to how I felt trying to decipher it all. I wanted to be honest about what I felt when I heard it. I, too am disappointed that nobody intervened. This could have been great, and I can tell there’s a load of great ideas under all that. This is why I included reference to Syd Barrett. I can enjoy his recordings because I’m able to see past what’s there and feel what he was trying to convey but just wasn’t getting out. That might be a bit unfair as Barrett was past the point of return, and Adam is trying to return from a bad place. i would have loved to see someone like Rick Rubin involved that could take his raw state and turn it into something that captured his ideas but also sounded great. And no disrespect meant to longtime fans. I know the wonder i felt the first time I heard the Prince Charming album. I wore out my 45 of “Vive Le Rock” as a kid. Adam’s mad genius always intrigued me. Maybe he will tour these songs into better shape and release a dvd as he meant these to sound. I would love to see that. But the quality of this one is just so disappointing and really hard to listen to, and that saddens me.

  2. ManLostBiro · · Reply

    Yep. I can’t add much to yours and Champagne’s comments. Moving on…

    Given that the live versions of ‘Vince Taylor’ and ‘Cool Zombie’ are great additions to Adam’s live set, a couple more songs from this album, rehearsed and beefed up with the live band, will more than make up for this brief blip of disappointment.

  3. I’ve only had one listen. I’m not concerned about the production values to be honest. We already have enough of that slick crap. Before the internet we would have copies of copies of copies of cassettes from someone who had the vinyl and who’s parents had a record player with a tape deck. I wish this had been released on cassette! My only complaint is it should have been recorded in mono.

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