The third album from Houston’s Something Fierce directly channels the English punk scene of the late ‘70s, namely, the Clash circa London Calling, just without the reggae anthems. Don’t Be So Cruel might not be as wide-reaching as that particular double album, but, at the best of times, it deliberately lifts the punk ferocity with the same melodic cadence as songs like “Lost in the Supermarket”, “Clampdown” and “Train in Vain”. Like the Clash, Something Fierce seems to have a political bent as well, as evident in songs like “Afghani Sands”. It’s hard to know for sure the band’s stance, though, because the vocals are deliberately pushed down in the mix. However, ultimately, discerning the words isn’t the point. This is strictly music to break stuff to, or at least pump your fist in the air to.
For what it is, Don’t Be So Cruel is actually pretty enjoyable and it will hit the spot for those who lament the fact that the Clash no longer graces the planet. Something Fierce will obviously not score any points for originality, but they do a great job of emulating the Clash to such a degree that you might be forgiven for thinking that Don’t Be So Cruel is the logical successor to London Calling, or would have been if the Clash didn’t go all dubby and start experimenting with world beat music. Its only failing is that even at 12 songs long, it does feel a bit winded since there’s very little variation between the tracks and the weaker songs tend to be tucked into the latter half of the record. Still, Don’t Be So Cruel is a strong rallying cry.
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