Turbonegro: Retox

Cooking Vinyl

On Retox, the Norwegian boogie-schlock masters of Turbonegro imagine America as a land of automatic sex, wasted youth, and unanswered philosophical questions—some of which revolve around male-pattern baldness. "I took my band way across the land/But too much ass can destroy a man," they declare on "Hell Toupée." They're not as young as they used to be. Still, they're in touch with the lingo of the age, so when frontman Hank Von Helvete sings, "Now I'm stuck, Googling for wigs," he sounds like just another world citizen trying to make up for all the time he foolishly spent.

For all that, Turbonegro have mastered numberless Southern rock and heavy-metal conventions. A chiming guitar fill powers "Stroke the Shaft," and the obligatory seven-minute operetta, "What Is Rock!?" (which appears to quote Tom Petty's "Here Comes My Girl"), closes out Retox with a series of mock aperçus worthy of the Mekons. "Rock is the possibility of choking on your own vomit in the back of a rapist's van," one answer goes, but these guys don't simply recycle clichés about their adopted idiom. They're analytical and sly, and don't skimp on the details.

"What is rock!?," they ask. "Old AC/DC?/Cleveland, Ohio?/Basically, it's harder, heavier, and slightly more blues-based than pop," they finally decide—and then go back to fingering their comb-overs and trying to figure out why Oslo women are so dumb.