If you can forgive me for the mental image, I’d appreciate it, but I was listening to “Fun Is Fun, The Trilogy Is Done” (and if you think that’s a good title, check out the other two in the series over the last decade or so) in bed the other night.
Through my headphones, came the words: “I would run to you, you know I would run to you”. And in my head comes the thought: “Who does Jay Allen think he is? Bryan Adams.
The very next line in the song? “Like Bryan Adams, I’d run to you”.
Ok Jay, you and me, brother, we are kindred spirits. Great minds think alike, or fools never differing, you choose.
The song that bit comes from, though, “Cry A Little Tear”, (featuring fabulous harmonies from Emily Grogan) is a decent window into this crazy world. It belongs to a different time. Sort of. That is to say, on one hand it has all the innocence of a drive thru cinema and chaperones at the school dance, but on other, this is Jay Allen and its punk rock, dirty and grimy.
The skill is the brilliance with which he melds these worlds.
The next one is even better. “Little Daggers” has some incredible organ to go with its rawness. I admit, I googled to see if this was an Elvis Costello song I didn’t know. It isn’t (so far as I can tell) but it should be.
“Grow Some Stones” (and this isn’t autobiographical, I’d venture to suggest) swings its big piano based balls like the very best rock n roll, like Jerry Lee Lewis jamming in the Sons Of Anarchy Club House. It rules.
“Big Lie” comes from the Buzzcocks school of rock. And if you have ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t have, this nu-wave thing should see you through the dark times, “Chopped Liver” had me looking for my Honeycrack albums (for US readers, find Honeycrack somewhere, do it after you’ve listened to this) and “Beautiful Chaos” shows his gift for ragged, scrappy melody and a low slung, power pop heart.
“I’ll Be Damned” gets Jason and the Scorchers soundalike points. Country and Western for Sex Pistols fans, it – like the rest of the album – is so catchy you’d be best off wearing a mask to listen to it.
A case in point. This is a gang. They sound like they if you want to take them on, you’d best come heavy. “Over And Over” is the most punk, and there are flavours of all kinds of Boston bands from Dropkicks onwards, here. But when it finishes, you are singing it like the most infectious pop hook you ever did here.
Jay Allen is Boston punk royalty. He’s been in bands since the 80s (he apparently is Neil Diamond’s cousin too, so it’d be ace if he could stop “Sweet Caroline” being played wherever drunk men watch sport) but the experience he’s got is brought to the fore throughout “Fun Is Fun….” It really is impossible to listen to without smiling, and here with The Archcriminals, he might have masterminded his greatest heist.