The cliche is that rock & roll is a young man’s game. But as we’re currently in a constant flow of bands reuniting, it seems that more people are realizing that the only thing keeping them off the stage is themselves. Such is the case of British band The Godfathers. After 15 years and six studio albums, the band called it quits in 2000, but reformed in 2008 to celebrate the 21st anniversary of their debut album, Hit By Hit. Clearly that got the juices flowing and they decided to keep going, albeit while shedding original members.
The Godfathers garnered a bit of buzz in the late ’80s with their second record, Birth, Work, School, Death and its Top 40 title track, but still kept a low profile in both the States and their own country. The only original member left standing from those days is founding member and lead singer Peter Coyle. He’s joined by Steve Crittall and Mauro Venegas on guitars, Tim James on drums, and Darren Birch on bass. Their version of punk rock mixed with tough-minded R&B may not always be fashionable, but it never really goes out of style. On A Big Bad Beautiful Noise, the band’s second, self-released album since reforming and the follow-up to 2013’s Jukebox Fury, the band sticks with what they know: fists in the air and knees up, guitars snarling, and drums attacked and beaten into near submission.
But these old dogs do have some other tricks under their collars and aren’t afraid to slow down the tempo and get a little sensitive. For every four-on-the-floor dance number, there is a love song not far behind. Lest you think The Godfathers soft, though, Coyle infuses the songs with a bit of toughness. His eyes may get misty, but you won’t break him.
But not everything works. Lyrically there are some undeniably clumsy moments. For example, on “Miss America,” Coyle sings, “You’re the pride of old New York. You can chew gum while you walk.” Oof. It’s not a deal breaker, but some of the ham-fisted lyrics will catch you off guard. Also some songs never seem to get off the ground, no matter how ferociously they’re played. “Feedbacking” seems like it would kill live, but it feels corny on wax. There’s also the questionable choice of overtly treated vocals on the opening title track. As a whole, though, A Big Bad Beautiful Noise is an undeniable, flat out rocker that not only makes you turn it up, but also dig into the back catalog.