I've reviewed a lot of Royal Trux reissues on this site but I never, ever, thought I'd be reviewing a new album from the band. Well, yeah, White Stuff is nearly here, and it drops on Fat Possum on Friday. That it succeeds is something to rave about, really, even as long-time fans may be shocked at how downright professional the whole endeavor sounds.
The legendary duo -- Jennifer Herrema (vocals, Moog, guitar, etc.) and Neil Hagerty (vocals, guitar, etc.) -- sound almost energized here, even as the familiar scummy-ness still charms. That so much of White Stuff is so easy to digest comes as a surprise, and a listener might surmise that it's likely that the hardcore diehards are going to be alienated this time out. Still, one feels some kind of joy that the band's back in the first place. And yes, while some of the tunes here, like the title cut and "Year of the Dog", have a nearly slick sheen, the band's sense of how to nick from both Mick and Keef, as well as Johnny Thunders, seems firmly intact. Sure, this material is cleaner, but the hooks are familiar ones, the arrangements simply tighter now. The superb "Every Day Swan" is pure druggy gibberish, concisely packaged and served up, while the bludgeoning "Whopper Dave" manages to ape The Stooges while being completely catchy. If some of White Stuff sees Royal Trux pursue new paths -- like the hipster rap of the Kool Keith-featuring "Get Used To This" -- lots more, like the lovely "Suburban Junkie Lady", is the sound of something foul creeping out from the sewers underneath the good neighborhoods. And I mean that in the best possible way.
If Royal Trux sound clean this time out, they've lost none of their narcotic appeal, the riffs here still oddly unsettling and dangerous, even as the overall package seems somehow neater. And if I say that White Stuff is the band's most listenable record yet, take that as praise from a guy who's a fan of everything these two have touched. Everyone has to grow up eventually, and if Royal Trux likely no longer live on the bad side of town, at least they still sorta sound like they do.
White Stuff is out on Fat Possum on Friday.
More details on Royal Trux via the band's official Facebook page.