The Short Fuses: Get the Hell Down

The Short Fuses
Get the Hell Down
Sympathy for the Record Industry

AS TWIN GUITARS roar like Sabbath's Tommy Iommi in a cutting session with the Stooges' James Williamson, Fuses frontwoman Miss Georgia Peach declares, "We got the moves/The piss and the vinegar/To stake our claim and rock this land." And those are some good moves. Get the Hell Down buzzes with a dense proto-metal that is even more driving than 1999's #1. And Miss Peach is that rare female hard-rock singer who doesn't ache to be the second coming of Pat Benatar. She makes herself heard above the din without surrendering a softer vocal touch.

In the transition to a more stylized glam, though, the Fuses' songwriting has faltered. Those big riffs sound lonely with so few tunes to keep them company. The increased muscle has crowded out most of the references to Fifties rock, Sixties soul, and Seventies new wave that made #1 distinctive. Cuts like that album's countrified "Down in the Gutter" and the Runaways-styled sass of "Supercharged" were neither corny nor calculating in their fusion of roots and raunch. But too many of Get the Hell Down's tracks merely match clichéd lyrics about getting crazy and wild to a gigantic Detroit rock sound that even my music-indifferent spouse thinks is rehashed. Not much insanity or abandon here, just a lot of frenzied effort: The band delivers every cut with the frenzy of third graders force-fed Pop Tarts for three days straight.

Fortunately, a fistful of good cuts not only stand up to the band's harder attack, they push back. "Bored" is anything but, with Miss Peach strutting confidently over trashy old-school punk guitars to testify, "We used to sing in harmony/But now it just sounds like shit to me." And the swift pop sweetness of "Spare Me" suggests Debbie Harry sitting in with the Ramones. Best of all is "Corvette Summer," a performance as fleet and unforced as anything on #1, painting a funny and vivid picture of small-town romances that peter out around Labor Day: "We saved our pennies and walked to the corner store/We went to Pizza Hut and Burger King and I think there was one more." If there's any justice, it'll replace gross old Bob Seger's "Night Moves" as the quintessential ode to doomed hot-weather flings on every car radio in the world--at least this summer.

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