REVIEW: The Little Wretches releases “Undesirables and Anarchists” (LP)
Choosing some new music to listen, and stick with, just got easier. Slick guitars and great story lines, the new album Undesirables and Anarchists from long-time Pittsburgh, Penn., rockers, The Little Wretches, begs to be listened to quite often. Loud, melodic guitars and even better vocals, these Steel City stalwarts have ridden the musical waves since the 1980s. Blending the New Wave tone with Lou Reed stylings, over the years founder Robert Wagner has captained this band through several lineup changes. Undesirables and Anarchists plays like a band hungry for its first hit…like no time has passed.
Blinded by the sunny, sweltering guitar riffs even out of the gate in track one, “Silence (Has Made A Liar Out Of Me)”, Wagner and the merry-band-of misfits sets the rock tone immediately. The percussion is subtle, with high hats feeling the heat typical of a steady rock pop track. You can hear the full music bed — tones of guitar, bass, drums and echoing piano. It’s a full sound. The Little Wretches continue to be in the zone in track two, “Poison” and by the time track three, “Give The Knife A Twist”, hits the listener has a solid foundation for the band’s sonic pallet, as well as Wagner’s clever wording.
“Almost Nightfall” features more mellow tone, and an abundance of harmonica. “I ain’t going home and I’m not gonna back up,” Wagner sings. Of all the songs on the album, this song struck me the most as something you might year from an east coast rocker. I think it’s tattooed I the working class poets. Wagner tells a tale of the street scene before nightfall — the fisherman packing it in; the streetwalker looking for clients. I loved the scenery he depicted and looking up to wish up on a star only to discover it was an airplane. Adding an even lighter tone, and harmony, is vocalist Rosa Colucci. The synergy between their voice is perfect.
“I Rather Would Go” struck me as interesting for the wording alone. I think I’m used to this phrase as being “I would rather”. Wagner and the band pick up the pace in this one and tell a wild tale of wanting to get out. Colucci lends her voice in this one, too, and furthers the experience.
“Don’t You Ever Mention My Name” continues this band’s core sound, and brings back into play the idea of living in the shadows. Wagner also explores the idea of knowing when an opportunity comes around, well, you better take it. In track seven, “Morning”, he lightens the mood. His voice sings with more smile to it, he’s relaxed. In track eight, “Who Is America”, one could imagine this being the sequel to “Almost Nightfall”. Again, Wagner explores different characters, differing individuals that make up the American workforce, and our community. While his lyrics suggest a struggle — “you’ve five minutes late….who in America,” Wagner coos. The guitar sounds like its swarming around his vocals. The bass guitar and the drum work is tight.
“Some Day” is a vocal fragment, and a nice seventh-inning stretch (even though it’s track nine). The last three tracks “All Of My Friends”, “Ballad of Johnny Blowtorch” and “Running (Was The Only Thing To Do)” cement The Little Wretches as having solid songs. Undesirables and Anarchists is an all-around excellent album.