For a band signed to Lady GaGa‘s own record label Haus Of GaGa, have toured with her and have even been friends with the multi-million selling pop phenomenon, Semi Precious Weapons have none of the glitz and glamour expected. The difference between the two acts is akin to that between credibility and James Corden. Whilst GaGa goes for fancy lights, expensive videos and outrageous effects, Semi Precious Weapons are as rock ‘n’ roll as it’s possible to be, playing in dirty clubs whilst sipping copious amounts of whisky all night long.
Anyone who remembers the glory days of Guns N’ Roses and other stadium-filling rock bands will probably have heard all of this before. Imagine Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters fronting a band that sounds like a rowdier, wilder version of Hole and that would be Semi Precious Weapons in a large metal-spiked nutshell.
This might be the first shot of the mainstream for the band, but it is technically a follow-up to their original release, You Love Us. The main difference between the two is that You Love You is a far more polished affair; unsurprising perhaps, given the band were given a generous recording budget. Therefore, all of the raw and gritty tones that were a trademark of their previous release have practically vanished, taking with them much of the charm that characterised their admittedly rough-and-ready work first time round.
In terms of the songs on offer, not much has changed. Despite the concise punk bursts of Magnetic Baby and the overblown all-out bombast of Rock ‘n’ Roll Never Looked So Beautiful – tracks that have been re-recorded especially for You Love You- there just isn’t enough quality material to sustain interest. Even when the tone does shift, like it does on the fairly restrained Statues Of Ourselves, the balladry of I Could Die and the disco rhythm of Sticky With Champagne, it feels by-the-numbers.
The increase in production value also has its pros and cons. On the upside, the slick and clean recording style allows the musicianship to come through more on this album (though at the same time you wish that it was more courageous, especially when the riffs and melodies are all fairly bog-standard). But Justin Tranter’s vocals seem to be far more controlled; it’s almost as if the bite and ferocity he had has been forced out of him at the expense of something appealing to a wider audience.
Their expansion in sound to add a few more dynamics is to be applauded, but it feels like the energy and enthusiasm of You Love Us has disappeared without trace, save for the re-recorded tracks. They are also still lacking a killer song. There are some good, fun moments of throwaway fun but it’s just that – something to dance to whilst completely wasted at 1am in a rock club before waking the following morning having forgotten all about it.