The Mooney Suzuki: Electric Sweat

[17 July 2002]

By Jon Singer

Urgent and exciting, Electric Sweat by The Mooney Suzuki is not for the passive listener. With 10 noisy and racing songs, the album gets blood pumping in a hurry. The Mooney Suzuki arms its attack with the standard rock arsenal of two guitars, bass, and drums. All four instruments remain tastefully raw and unpolished while fusing blues and punk influences. The four-piece band from New York doesn’t shy away from comparisons to classic rockers like Iggy Pop or the Rolling Stones. Instead, they grab those influences by the scruff of the neck, increase the beats per minute, and turn up their amps for good measure.

Electric Sweat begins with its title track in which a repetitive blues riff is quickly upended by a counter beat and dominating melody. “In a Young Man’s Mind” follows, maintaining the fast pace. “Oh Sweet Susanna” is a naturally sweetened pop song with an instantly addictive chorus. Its great guitar sound is smothered in vintage tube amp reverb. Another exceptional track, “The Broken Heart”, keeps the same feel and pulls off a surprisingly dead-on Jimi Hendrix vocal tribute. Both are excellent songs and showcase The Mooney Suzuki’s ability to write great melodies within different settings.

Singer and guitarist Sammy James Jr. writes contagious and straight-forward melodies that perfectly compliment the upbeat songs. James’ voice is thick and strong, and drips with sarcasm at times. Lyrically, James stays safely in rock star land. “In a young man’s mind / It’s a simple world / There’s a little room for music / And the rest is girls”, James sings on “In a Young Man’s Mind”.

Graham Tyler’s guitar playing is the heart and soul of Electric Sweat. Tyler delves into electrified blues stylings that become his own raw sound. In addition to ripping into fuzz-filled guitar solos, Tyler has the sensibility to add subtle punches when he sees fit. The incredible energy behind The Mooney Suzuki, however, is its rhythm section. Augie Wilson’s drumming is relentless and irresistible to antsy toe-tappers. Michael Bang’s bass runs laps around the fret board, pacing the race that is Electric Sweat. Three more driving songs add to the already solid album. “A Little Bit of Love”, “It’s Not Easy”, and “I Woke Up This Mornin’” all keep up the pace and refuse to give listeners a rest. Even two instrumental blues numbers, “It’s Showtime Pt. II” and “Electrocuted Blues”, stay loud and energetic.

The Mooney Suzuki was wise to keep Electric Sweat at 10 tracks so that no excess filler tracks were necessary. The album is concise and powerful, and will draw more and more fans to their already raving shows. The only uncertainty about The Mooney Suzuki is what they will do to follow up Electric Sweat. They will no doubt continue their restless touring, but it seems as though a successful statement and distinctive sound are created and decided upon. How the band will break out of this niche is anyone’s guess. The album contains few hints of new horizons. Regardless, Electric Sweat can be enjoyed now, and The Mooney Suzuki may once again deliver something wonderful that no one foresees.

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