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album review: The Big Dirty

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The Big Dirty

THE BIG DIRTY
THE SEX
[self-released]

Northampton’s self-described ‘Sex Rock’ purveyors The Big Dirty return with their debut album The Sex. Two years in the making, it follows their 2018 EP Sex Rock City, and finds the quartet refining a sound which is becoming tighter, louder and…ruder.

Recalling those dodgy 1980s phone chat lines, ‘Intro [Foreplay]’ is a brief teaser to whet your appetite before the album begins proper with ‘Hold My Beer’. Bold as brass, it arrives with that classic Iron Maiden gallop which is supplemented by some sublime harmonies – and when the guitar solo erupts mid-song it’s suitably raucous. The aptly titled ‘Dirty Rider’ follows hot on its heels and, with a strong Southern Rock vibe, it seems destined to create havoc wherever it’s played. ‘Whiskey Pistol’, the album’s second single, is full of delicious double entendres. In fact it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. James Cutler’s bass rumbles like a pneumatic drill as James Shaw’s vocals reach a near-impossible pitch.

From the neon blues and pinks on the cover to the glam-metal inspired sound within there’s a definite ’80s aesthetic running through The Sex. Perfectly walking the thin line between homage and parody The Big Dirty pay a definite reverence to bands like Poison and Cinderella. And like those bands there’s a strong emphasis on melody and song structure. That’s most evident on the groove-laden ‘Love With The Lights Off’, and while you shouldn’t take the innuendo-laced lyrics too seriously, it’s an undeniable earworm that’ll haunt you for days. Anything but sluggish, ‘Take It Slow’ arrives like a bull in a china shop, replete with an intricate madrigal interlude which only makes the crushing riff heavier.

‘Devil Woman’ allows Shaw to exhibit more of his impressive vocal range, with accomplice Cutler delivering some demonic death growls, before guitarist Chris Datson entombs the listener within walls of guitar on all out rocker ‘Hush’. The Sex benefits from a huge, clean production and it’s put to good use on ‘Sensual Lover’, a track that puts the guitar centre stage as the strings ring out with a metallic sheen. Exploding with effervescence ‘Sensual Lover’ has a huge sing-along chorus that’s overlaid with plenty of cool harmonies. ‘Lightweight Champion’ is fleet of foot, with Tobi Ripley’s lithe drumming ensuring the song ducks and dives like a welterweight boxer.

A chuggy riff heralds the arrival of ‘Wham Bam [Thank You Ma’am]’, an epic closer that could easily swing with Pantera. It brings down the curtain on a fun-filled, sleazy trawl through the glam metal world.

Peter Dennis

The Sex is out now via CD and on digital platforms

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