Lorenzo was one of the bands on the second stage at the Poison concert I attended on Father's Day weekend in summer 2006. Their live set was blistering, showcasing the swagger and charisma of lead vocalist Mark Lorenzo. The musicianship exhibited by the other members of the band (Kraig King – guitar, Eric Mayleben- drums, Adam Scovanner – bass, and Clark Connley – guitar) was exciting to watch and the music sounded excellent.
So when Love Shape Bruise arrived a few weeks later, I was initially ecstatic. That faded once I heard the disc, which shows two distinct bands, one interesting musically and lyrically and another weak and unenjoyable.
Kicking off with "Nothin' Left To Talk About," the band introduces the riff as if there was a towel over the speaker before ripping the towel into threads and blasting through the riff at full volume. It's a hard rock riff and the guitars drop in and out of the song, with Lorenzo's vocals a highlight. "I Think About Sex" includes the soon-to-be classic line "You say I'm twisted, yeah, that's probably true," but the rest is cheesy.
The sequence of "The Breaking," "Drowned" and "These Scars" is solid, showcasing the band's straight-ahead rock style that is comparable to Pyromania-era Def Leppard. Like that band, Lorenzo knows how to please an audience, evidenced by those three tracks and "Naked And Wasted," with lines like "Don't hate me / I'm always too honest / but my eyes only see what is naked and wasted." The guitar solo on this track is too quick and the best on the disc.
"Hateful" is the one song on this release I never get tired of playing, and it should be a single. "Stop pushing me / Stop throwing things / Stop blaming me / you ought to be grateful / Stop nagging me / stop breaking things / stop screaming / you're so damn hateful," Lorenzo sings, later describing this person as "all your life you're waiting for rescue / what happens when no one comes?" There's a sophistication in the lyrics that sets Lorenzo slightly above others of this stripe, while the band's riffs are mostly well-written, as on the intricate "Fallen."
But the final two songs are a weak conclusion, sounding like tunes AC/DC or some glam metal '80s band would have written. Being a husband of 13 years far removed from the dating scene makes it difficult for me to relate to the story being told in both "Your Little Sister" and "2 AM." The former describes falling for your girlfriend's sister, with shameful lyrics such as "She makes you feel all right, all right / She's not all that beautiful / but she's so fine / Well, maybe if it's cool with you, we can all go out sometime." I don't know if this is based on an actual situation or not, but not even the piano in the background can save this track from being a stinker.
Previously, vocalist Lorenzo sang "2 AM" in a band called Echo Park. This version is marginally better, but I'm still holding to a hope that they cover the Echo Park song "Little Breakdown" on their next release. "2 AM" is another lyrical stinker, with lines such as "I think we're just friends pretending / but my friends don't ever touch me there / what do you want from me / cause I don't want to leave / and going home is just no fun." Dismal.
Given all that, Lorenzo is a good band on disc but better in concert. Yet while this is solid, only five tracks are worth revisiting, and one can skip the other half without losing any sleep. Lorenzo would have been better served releasing the best songs here on a demo.