On their 2004 live album, Live at the Magic Bag, Supersuckers frontman Eddie Spaghetti can be heard proudly announcing, “I like rock and roll songs about rock and roll, with rock and roll right there in the title.” Based on that alone, Mr Spaghetti should probably go pick himself up a copy of Turbonegro’s RocknRoll Machine right now, such is the Norwegian deathpunks’ devotion to that mantra. As an unashamed tribute to that classic riff rock sound, RocknRoll Machine is essentially Ronseal: The Album, doing exactly what it says on the tin. Following a bizarre synth intro that seems to set the scene for a concept album that never comes, the album starts well with a decent trio that brings Danko Jones, AC/DC and The Donnas to mind, in that order. The title track in particular is as good as anything AC/DC have done in the last 20 years, and loaded with knowing TNT oys for good measure. However, after an energetic start, the album quickly loses pace, adding a high level of tedium to a low rent Steel Panther. Turbonegro have always been grotty and filthy, it’s what we love about them, but lyrics like Fist City‘s “I’m gonna rip more than your jeans” and the entirety of On The Rag just leave a sour taste in the mouth in 2018. That said, the band are arguably pretty good at what they’ve chosen to do this time round. The Europe / Van Halen / Survivor vibes are hella strong, and as an ode to that synthy 80s rock ethic, this is nigh on pastiche perfect, but therein lies the problem. The album is so knowing, so on the nose and so close to the original, its influences slapped on thicker than Homer Simpson’s make-up gun, that it struggles to warrant anything more than an Alan Partridge shrug. With zero surprises or anything even hinting at innovation or progression, this is essentially just another batch of 80s nostalgia, and while the 80s had some great music, this wasn’t it. It’s easy to understand why many will love it, but also fairly hard to accept. You know that gelatinous blob of cretinous, ashen-faced misery down the pub who looks at your band shirt and asks “who’s that then?” before confidently stating that there’s been no decent rock music since 1984? Well this is the album for him, so prepare for that sentence to end, “except RockNRoll Machine of course”, from now on.
RockNRoll Machine has been available to stream since 1981, and will be released physically 4 March 2018