Bad Sneakers And A Pina Colada
Music for Nations, 2000
REVIEW BY: Chris Harlow
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/19/2003
Rightfully respecting the rock of their local music scene, but bucking the punk-edged trends the Hives were perfecting and the Hellacopters were refining, Gothenburg, Sweden's Hardcore Superstar could be found giving a nod to the old school when recording their LP Bad Sneakers And A Pina Colada. Cultivating an image reminiscent to Motley Crue with faces full of eyeliner and bodies full of tattoo's, Hardcore Superstar push a sleaze-rock sound on Bad Sneakers And A Pina Colada that could be confused with any of a number of bands from the 80's era pop-metal scene out of Hollywood. (For the sake of historical context, it should be mentioned that six tracks on this disc come from an independent release the band put out in 1998 titled It's Only Rock n' Roll.)
Since the release of this album was during the advent of the new millennium, and the glam-metal scene of the 80's was considered passe on so many counts, it was remarkable that Hardcore Superstar were able to produce an album that had two singles reach the top 10 charts in their native Sweden.
"Liberation" is a song that mixes a "hair in the breeze" melody with some punchy guitar and drum work and is the type of song that could easily be the feel good-hit of the summer, even in warmer lands much closer to the equator. "Someone Special," the second track to chart, benefits itself from a sing-a-long chorus led by the gravelly vocals of Jocke Berg. These songs are relatively safe compositions that are strengthened by Silver Silver's (Thomas Silver) guitar work and efforts that aim to complement Berg's penchant for melody on these songs, not override it.
Describing Berg's vocals in the fashion mentioned above is actually meant to complement the fact that the band succeeds in this self-produced release by keeping the production sound from becoming too squeaky-clean. Think of Berg's vocals sounding a lot like Josh Todd of Buckcherry and you'll get the drift of this claim.
Outside of the two charting tracks mentioned, there is plenty of other experimentation to be found on Bad Sneakers And A Pina Colada. The hard-hitting rockers on this album, including "So Deep Inside" and "Rock n' Roll Star," provide the necessary bite to pump life into this release. On the flip side, when the band tries to ramp up the pace on the tracks "Hey Now!!" and "Punk Rock Song" the result suffers largely because Berg tries to make beautiful music when he should be aiming to throw some more grit and soul into his vocal parts. He's quite good at sounding both raw and beautiful, but similar to what they say about the game of baseball, timing is indeed everything, and if you are bunting when you should be swinging for the fences, someone is bound to be thrown for a loop.
Somewhere, Berg obviously missed a signal.
Something tells me that had Bad Sneakers And A Pina Colada been released in the 80s, Hardcore Superstar would have an album on their hands that would have had the substance to go platinum around the world. The sound is there and truthfully the songs are much better written than they were by the majority of pop-rock bands from that era.
As it stands now, the door for glam-rock bands to become music darlings in the worldwide music scene is basically shut. Such sentiments aside, Bad Sneakers And A Pina Colada is an album that admirably captures and expands some of the better elements of such pretentious days that Hollywood gave us in the 80s.