I am not much of a punk listener, some Ramones, some Stooges, Clash’s London Calling (which ain’t even much of punk) and that’s all. I can’t tell you who X did or did not sound like, and I don’t even know much about the LA and NY punk scenes at the time. All I can talk about is what Los Angeles sounds like. It sounds like a 1950’s rockabilly troupe arriving via a time machine in 1980, listening to punk, and deciding that it would be a good idea to somehow infuse the old stuff with the punk spirit. Listen to the classic “Johnny Hit and Run Pauline” to understand what I mean. Given a good partner I could dance to this stuff, easy peasy. Not head bang or jump up or down waving my hands kinda stuff, but a proper free style kinda couple dance. However, if you are willing to look past the immediate riffs, this still is punk. Its fast, the lyrics are punkish and the vocals are undeniably punk, and not only that, the vocal hooks are awesome, some of the times better than the guitars itself, and its mostly the female who is responsible for these moments. Hear the refrain of “But You’re Not” at the ending of “You’re Phone’s off the Hook, But You’re Not”, and the “no no nooo” in “Soul Kitchen”.
Things get a little muddled up in between with “Nausea” which stinks and has Doors like keyboards, most probably due to Ray Manzarek’s involvement with this album (he’s the producer, I think so, didn’t look it up). The keyboards pop up with much better effect on “The Unheard Music” which stands out because of the different vibe and aesthetics. The second half of the album is more straight up punk with “Sugarlight” and the title track. Things pick up with “Sex and Dying in High Society” whose lyrics never fail to catch my attention, and the chorus sticks for a long time in my head. My favourite track however is “The World’s a Mess, It’s in my kiss”, which somehow has ended up being my favourite punk ditty as of the date of writing. Excellent stuff. Dunno if this has the legendary tag or not, but it sure sounds right. I think I might try some more punk from now on.
Recommended Tracks – I think I named all of them.