Ultra V – Bring On The Fuego

3 out of 5

Label: RCA

Producer: Matt Wallace

Right.  So a lot of reviews I read for this album immediately brushed it off as rap-rock and deemed it shite, which is a little judge-a-book, because we have a couple of tracks – one is admittedly the lead-in, “Playboy Mansion” – that yes, take some swipes from that glorious genre (and god dammit, fine, “Playboy Mansion” was apparently re-written into a track for Kid Rock later on), but otherwise, “Bring On The Fuego” treads a line between the glammier feel of Ruth Ruth’s “Are You My Friend?” and the adult-rock of their old man “Right About Now” album.  It’s totes more energized and accessible than either (the former being energized but not accessible, the latter the reverse), and definitely strips this re-branded version of Ruth Ruth of a lot of the devious snarl that Chris Kennedy brought to the lyrics, but it also doesn’t change that there are some catchy duffin’ songs here (‘Alphabet Lounge’) that walk a strange line between making fun of this rock-and-roll thang and actually committing to its cheesiness (“Can I Crash Here Tonite?”).  Some of it is so grossly obvious that I’m not sure what was going on – the second rap-rock track, “Lover,” is about digging black women, and it’s not really tasteless, it’s just embarrassing.

RR fans that were sorta disappointed by the lack of, mm, anything really defining on the band’s final album might want to take a visit with Ultra V.  I was definitely turned off by the superstar sheen to it, but after the hooks (really some of their best ones since ‘Laughing Gallery,’ no lie) had me returning and I forced my ears to swallow somea them lyrics (what?), I recognized – or think I recognize – the sarcasm lurking there.  No, it’s not the world’s most inventive stab at the topic of major label whoring (and bear in mind this was still on RCA), but through the album several times, I do wonder – re-named group and all – if this wasn’t Chris and the band’s way of working through frustration of doing the whole indie-to-major-to-nobodies gamut.

Whatevs.  Good pop songs, dude.

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