By now you already know, because you were likely there: Sidewalk Driver released a new album last night at a sold-out Sinclair in Cambridge, and now that the glitter has settled, it’s time to get into the music.
Back in December we premiered the video for lead single “Everybody Loves My Face”, but it doesn’t take long for a new favorite off My Face to emerge — opening track “Kidnapped” goes to 0 to 60 in about four riffing seconds, and its melodic punk groove reminds us of the best tracks of the long-lost debut D-Generation album off Chrysalis back in the mid-’90s. Other standouts include the jangly, na-na-na-fueled “Because I Want You”; piano ballad “So Close,” which should soundtrack the next Anna Kendrick rom-com; and country-toasted campfire-rally closer “Ya Know”, which is the drive home after a long night out on the town. A lesser band would have gone out on My Face with a forceful bang, but by now Sidewalk Driver know how to pull back when necessary. Writer Bret Easton Ellis used to be very specific about the first and last words he used in a novel — 1998’s Glamorama starts with “Specks” and ends with “mountain,” for example — and here Sidewalk Driver uses the opposite trajectory to great effect; the explosive intro of “Kidnapped” is long gone as “You Know” gently crackles into faded silence.
On the anthemic “Rock Star”, frontman extraordinaire Tad McKitterick sings “I ain’t a rock star, no/I’m just broken-hearted,” and you can’t help but call him out for being full of shit. Later in the song, he offers one better: “I’m tidal wave, I’m a hurricane/I’m a fireball, I’m a freight train.” And the world makes sense again. Who needs to be a rock star when you’re actually a force of nature?
With that in mind, Sidewalk Driver will always be affiliated with things like “glam” and “glitter” (we drop both terms in this review), but My Face is a remarkably well-rounded rock and roll record that defies simple categorization. Its myriad sounds and personalities will take a while to fully digest, and there are layers here that warrant multiple listens to appreciate, but let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another six years for the next one.
In short: Boston has its first great rock record of 2015.
Some sights from last night’s party at the Sinclair…