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New Releases

February 19, 2009

The last time we heard from Justin Hawkins, things weren’t exactly rosy. While debut Darkness album Permission To Land was probably the most thrillingly ridiculous rock ‘n’ roll pisstake since Spinal Tap, second record One Way Ticket To Hell…And Back proved one way too many, and predictably saw them limp off the scene in a haze of arguments and addictions. Making his return clean and sober, new project Hot Leg pull a lot of the old tricks on debut album Red Light Fever, but lucky for us, the fun is back.

Needless to say, the trick here isn’t to take any of this too seriously. Yes, it’s a decidedly familiar batch of tunes – it takes all of thirty seconds for Hawkins’ trademark falsetto to resurface on ‘Chickens’ – but the vast majority of this is unrelentingly fun. After all, when Hawkins rhymes “eighties”, “gayties” and “straighties” on the predictably ridiculous ‘Gay in the 80s’, it’s virtually impossible not to crack a smile. The campness that proved a selling point before has been kicked up a notch or two as well, while Hawkins’ unquestionable musical ability has never been more evident than on the face-melting theatrics of ‘I’ve Met Jesus’.

Of course, it’s not all good. The tepid balladry of ‘Kissing in the Wind’ is utterly average, while the harmonies here – most conspicuously on ‘You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore’ – are aping Queen more than ever. Ultimately, if you expected Red Light Fever to change the face of rock music as we know it, you missed the point in the first place. For the rest of us, this is perfectly acceptable – if utterly predictable – novelty rock fare.

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