Album review

Stiffed : Sex Sells
Ryko / CoolHunter

Stiffed : Sex SellsSome bands really don't do themselves any favours. Sex Sells has all the hallmarks of a poorly produced bedroom demo, with a fnarr-fnarr title and piss-poor artwork. Nothing about this CD screams 'listen to me', and for once that would be a great shame.
    Instead of sounding like Oasis ten years too late, this six-track mini-album actually takes No Doubt's love of all things 80s to its logical conclusion, with way more punk than ska, and without any aspirations to slick R'n'B.

Opener What You Gon' Do? is essentially an angular No Doubt track, with vocalist Santi White running the gamut of Gwen Stefani vocal mannerisms, while the rest of the band clatter around in the background like a ska'd up Devo.
    Everybody's Got It trades in Devo for The Go-Go's at their most mature, and it's a fine slice of new wave which manages to get away without sounding at all dated. By the time they change key 30 seconds before the end, you'll already be singing along. Great tune.
    Maybe it's the not-quite-reggae guitar work or The Tide Is High-style vocals from White, but after hearing Night-Time Lovin it comes as no surprise to find out that drummer Chuck Treece has a past with Bad Brains. The end result is poles apart from HR's crew, but the similarities are there if you listen hard enough.

It may be early days for Stiffed, but as their nearest neighbours in the mainstream - No Doubt for those of you with short attention spans - are doing so well, the future's got to be a bright one. Judging CDs by their covers is an easy habit to get into, but on this occasion I'm very glad I took the time to listen.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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