Motley Crue’s first album in eight years (and first with their original lineup since 1997’s Generation Swine) is a conscious (self-conscious, even) effort to return to their ’80s glory days, both in sound and in lyrical references. From the title, which refers to the height of the LA Sunset Strip scene that spawned the Crue and countless other hair-metal bands, through the glam-style riffs and blatantly pandering lyrics (“Do you remember when?” Vince Neil sings on “Down at the Whisky”), Saints of Los Angeles fairly radiates desperate nostalgia, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t sometimes fun.
The title track and “Down at the Whisky” are both energetic, sleazy good times, and “Chicks = Trouble” is twice as misogynistic as “Girls, Girls, Girls” but just as catchy. The same can’t be said for the turgid ballad “The Animal in Me,” which suggests the Crue trying to emulate upcoming tourmates Hinder and Papa Roach, with disastrous results. Neil’s voice is especially thin and nasal throughout the album, but Tommy Lee pounds the drums like a madman, and Mick Mars tosses off some decent guitar solos.
This is really bassist Nikki Sixx’s show, though—he and his Sixx: A.M. collaborators James Michael and DJ Ashba wrote or co-wrote virtually every song (Neil has no writing credits, and Lee only has one), and Michael produced the album. Like Sixx: A.M.’s album from last year, Saints tries hard to sound tough and succeeds about half the time, but the Crue used to be much better when they didn’t have to constantly remind people how dangerous they were.
The bottom line:**1/2