BAD RELIGION HAS always been about unholy rollin' rather than confessions at the alter; it's the sneer of the vocals, the whipsnap snarl of the guitar, and the thunderous thump of the drums that has carried the band. By the dollar signs and broken hearts making up the American flag on the cover of American Lesion, you might expect a similarly irreverent screed from BR frontman Greg Graffin's first solo outing. Well, guess again: This mewling collection of tripe represents the most serious miscalculation/betrayal of punk rock's misanthropy since J. Mascis's basement tapes.
Delivering his lines in a voice reminiscent of a hoarse Gordon Lightfoot, Graffin wants us to feel his pain--and, worse, his poetry. "The resonance of my imperfection/broke the silence once more," he laments (out-of-key) on the opening track, "Opinion." That's followed by "Fate's Cruel Hand," which opens with the Rod McKuenism, "There's a leaf in the sky/And it's floating on by..." Musically, the pulse is totally inert until a moment in the seventh song, "Maybe She Will," when a piano launches into a direct rip-off of Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet." It's the most tuneful riff on the entire record. By track nine, "In the Mirror," Graffin is reduced to chanting "You piece of shit!" over and over again before adding, "Look! In the mirror!" My sentiments exactly.
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