Chase Charaba, Editor-in-Chief
The greatest band of the 21st Century thus far is back, not that they’ve ever been away. Los Angeles-based glam band Steel Panther released their fourth studio album, Lower the Bar, on March 24. While the album is, as expected, a fun ride through crude, explicit songs that sound right out of the Aquanet and big hair decade of the 1980s, it unfortunately does exactly what the album’s title said.
The album opens with the fierce “Goin’ in the Backdoor.” At first, the song seemed like a weak opener for a Steel Panther album. It didn’t bring anything new to the table, but after a few listens it packs a punch. Right from the start you get Michael Starr’s David Lee Roth-esque vocals and screams with the band’s usual guitar-driven firepower.
It transitions into “Anything Goes,” one of the promotional singles released far in advance of the album itself. While it didn’t seem as exciting as previous Steel Panther singles, it still rocks harder than anything else so far in 2017. Lyric wise, this is what fans expect from Steel Panther: a fun, comedic song about sex that rocks and will never be able to see radio airplay.
While parts of “Poontang Boomerang” sound like Warrant’s 1990 hit “Cherry Pie,” this is probably the best song on the album. It’s nothing but fun, party hair metal. Plus, the music video features a cute kitty, which is a win-win.
“That’s When You Came In” was first heard on the band’s live album, Live from Lexxi’s Mom’s Garage, and finally hearing this studio version was awesome. The mostly acoustic song is in the same vein as “Community Property” from the band’s debut album in 2009. It’s sure to become a fan favorite.
Straight-forward hard rocking “Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out in Beverly Hills)”, is the last song on the album that screams Steel Panther. It has everything you’d expect, but it doesn’t stand out in the band’s entire catalog.
Finishing off side one is the worst song on the album, “Now the Fun Starts.” The intro is reminiscent of Def Leppard’s 2006 version of David Essex’s “Rock On,” which is really cool. However, the song isn’t impressive. The super repetitive chorus gets annoying fast and everything about the track screams filler.
Side two of the album doesn’t fair as well as the first. It’s almost like the album loses steam.
“Pussy Ain’t Free” strangely has a Nirvana vibe to the verses and manages to blend grunge and glam metal together, which works wonderfully. “Wasted Too Much Time” just misses the mark, although it’s still better than “Now the Fun Starts.” However, it’s the type of song that will grow on listeners over time.
The album’s final single prior to its release, “I Got What You Want,” features lyrics that are much cleaner than other Steel Panther songs, although they’re still dirty enough that the song won’t receive airplay. It’s generic and others are already saying it sounds uninspired. However, it’s still a great song with a big chorus and full ‘80s flair.
The final original song on the album is the fun, upbeat bluesy track “Walk of Shame,” which is a nice final hoorah for the album. This is the standout of the second half of the album, and it will leave listeners wanting more.
The album ends with its lead single, a cover of Cheap Trick’s “She’s Tight.” As a Cheap Trick fan, this cover isn’t as good as the original and just falls short of what’s expected of a Steel Panther cover song. See their cover of the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” to see what a Steel Panther cover should sound like. It’s not a bad version of the song, but it’s not as fun as the original. Ending the album with “Walk of Shame” would’ve been a better choice.
Despite being critical about the album, Lower the Bar, Steel Panther’s worst studio album to date, is an exceptional rock album in an era where great, new rock music is hard to find. The spirit of the ‘80s lives on with Steel Panther. As the band transitions, further from their pure comedic songwriting into a more commercial sound, it will be interesting to see what’s next.
Get out there and purchase this album, tease your hair up and get ready to party like it’s 1987.
Top tracks: Anything Goes, Poontang Boomerang, That’s When You Came In, Walk of Shame
Songs are explicit.