Danger and sleaziness is hard to fake. Rick James, god rest his soul, dripped of sleaze, sex, and sweat. The Hives, who boldly proclaim themselves as a menace to society, still buzz dangerously; seemingly ready to explode at any moment. Hailing from Sheffield, England, Pink Grease take their cues from the excesses of the ‘70s, mixing disco’s hedonist freedom with the gutter rock that made the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street an instant classic. In 2003, the group debuted with an EP and a mini-album, All Over You. The mini-album was a partial success, showing a band eager to sleaze but not quite armed with the chops to do it.
Now, in the heat of the summer of 2004, Pink Grease drop their debut full-length, This Is for Real. Unfortunately, this English group fail to live up to the potential of All Over You and may have even taken a step backwards. What made their mini-album somewhat promising were the backing vocals of the female trio, the Greasettes. Where their presence was felt throughout All Over Me, they are strangely absent for most of This Is for Real. Left to carry the songs on his own, front man Rory Lewarne’s attempts to inject the proceedings with a dirty dose of rock ‘n roll smack of effort. Oddly, nothing about This Is for Real feels sincere.
From the forced “Uh-huh!” of “Remember Forever”, Lewarne calls in his performance on vocals. Armed with cliché, cringe-inducing lyrics, painfully boring rock progressions, and a libido that won’t quit, Pink Grease try so hard to be dirty that you can’t help but see the paint-by-numbers formula that seems to be guiding these songs. By the middle of the album, I began to wonder if maybe I was missing the point. Perhaps Pink Grease are meant to be ironic. I quickly dismissed the idea, as Pink Grease simply aren’t clever enough to be this ironic, and there is an honest investment in creating something genuinely filthy.
It’s hard, however, to take the group seriously when Lewarne seems to be calling in his performance. “The Pink G.R.EASE” starts with an eye-rolling five-syllable count by Lewarne: “One-two-three-fow-ah”. Later, the group reprises “The Nasty Show” from All Over Me. Easily one of the worst tracks on the album, Lewarne lazily sings: “Get in your car / Baby I’ll take you far / I fucking die for you / I want to die fucking you / Fucking the day away / Why don’t you come over and play”. These are some of the most simplistic, moronic lyrics I’ve come across in awhile. Elsewhere, Pink Grease simply get offensive with the unnecessary use of the word “nigger” peppering “Party Live”. Lewarne and company have no reason whatsoever to use the word, and its inclusion simply for shock value is appalling.
Strangely enough, Pink Grease are tolerable on the more melodic tracks found on the middle of the disc. “The Wind Up Bird” builds nicely and finishes nicely with a synth-textured third act. With subtle use of a theremin, “Peaches” also shines like a diamond in the rough on Pink Grease’s debut album.
However, these two tracks are the exceptions, as the rest of the album swaggers like a drunk stumbling through a bar looking for fight, while the patrons, unconvinced by the bravado, continue on with their conversations. This Is for Real certainly isn’t, and that’s the biggest disappointment of them all.