Lower the Bar
Rating: *** 1/2
Over the past year or so, I’ve been questioning myself as to why I like Steel Panther. There are some people that don’t like them and for valid reasons: their songs are juvenile, explicit and revolve around the same theme. How can people find this funny? While I can see where these people are coming from, I still like the band. While they can be overly explicit, the band is doing something different: they’re a throwback to 1980s glam metal and they’re having a laugh about it. They’re just a fun band. Their latest effort, Lower the Bar, is their fourth album- following up 2014’s All You Can Eat. Compared to their last three albums, Lower the Bar isn’t as consistent. However, it still manages to be a solid album from the band.
The album opens with the balls out rocker “Goin’ in the Backdoor.” Right off the bat, the band are in fine form- especially guitarist Satchel. It’s a really cooking tune with surprisingly solid lyrics: “Back doors never got a welcome mat” sings frontman Michael Starr. “But that never stops me cause I’m a gutter rat.” “Anything Goes,” the lead single off the album, is a pretty good tune. The song is another glam metal throwback- complete with dual lead guitar riffs. Lyrically, the song is about kinky sex- whether that involves sending a Go Pro “up your own butt hole” or banging “a hung midget in Niagara Falls.” Steel Panther continue to deliver the goods on “Poontang Boomerang” and “Wrong Side of the Tracks.” The former has a catchy chorus filled with great glam metal hooks while the latter has more impressive guitar from Satchel. The 1980s throwbacks also come in the form the melodic acoustic power ballad “That’s When You Came In.”
The second half of the album, as much as I hate to say it, is just okay. They’re not terrible but compared to the first five tracks, these songs aren’t as strong. “Wasted Too Much Time” doesn’t offer anything new lyrically nor does “Walk of Shame.” However, the songs are pretty good musically- with the former having some nice melodic harmonies and the latter being a surprisingly bluesy tune. I do enjoy “I Got What You Want,” which is yet another glam metal throwback- complete with sensational melodic harmonies and a killer bass line from the band’s flamboyant bassist Lexxi Foxx. The album closes out with a cover of the Cheap Trick tune “She’s Tight.” While it’s not too different from the original, it’s a fun cover.
Despite its downsides, Lower the Bar is still a decent album from Steel Panther. I’ve noticed that with this album, the songs weren’t as overly explicit as on All You Can Eat and some of the previous albums- so I’ll give credit for that. If you enjoyed the first three Steel Panther albums, you should enjoy this new batch of tunes.