Review: Backyard Babies – 'Four by Four'
They’ve had a break for five years, and now Backyard Babies are back with the proverbial curate’s egg of a release on ‘Four By Four’ on Gain Music – good in parts and mystifying in others.
Releasing any album after a lengthy break is always a risk, especially with a fan base that looks back to previous songs, and the Backyard Babies have six albums worth of material to live up to.
Not that those albums were consistently good, but the Swedish four-piece had enough of a back catalogue of excellent hard rock tunes to have a fist-pumping crowd gather when they played.
On ‘Four By Four’ they strive to rekindle those fires, and mostly achieve that, but the curious duo of songs, ‘Piracy’ and ‘Never Finish Anything’ sound like out-takes from some middle-America pop punk wannabes.
Thankfully the rest of the album is more palatable for those who like their hard rock on the raucous side. Opener, and lead single, ‘Th1rt3en Or Nothing’ kicks things into high gear, followed by the not-so-modest ‘I’m On My To Save Your Rock ‘n’Roll’.
The promise of a return to the halcyon says of Peder Carlsson, Johan Blomquist, Dregen and Nicke Borg seems fulfilled, until the saccharine schamltz of ‘Bloody Tears’ serves as a warning before the pop punk flavoured duo mentioned above.
Where that incorporation of pop punk elements does work is on ‘Wasted Years’ which has the hooks of the better bands of that justly maligned genre.
The album closer is the validation for all that has gone before. ‘Walls’ has the slowed down swagger of Duff McKagan’s Loaded at its best; driven along by a bass line, a well balanced arrangement, and a storming mid-section.
The band certainly sound confident about this release.
“We really feel that our time out will end up being a win-win situation for both the band and our fans,” said Nicke Borg. “The break has developed us individually as songwriters and musicians, and we’ve come up with what we feel is our strongest material to date.
For the first time, we’ve had the chance to look back on our catalogue and get a firm grip on why our audience – and ourselves, for that matter – loves Backyard Babies so fucking much! So it’s been a mixture of personal development and finding our way back to the band’s essence, its energies…”
Reading quotations like this on the PR blurb that accompanies releases always gives one time to pause and reflect on a release. Despite the reservations there is sufficient weight on display to suggest that Backyard Babies can further develop. The closing riffs on ‘Walls’ suggest they can find their way back to the armies wanting to save rock ‘n’ roll.