During the days of the now defunct Red Handed, Madam Adam guitarist and lead vocalist Scott Gould came across on stage and on recordings as a snotty punk kid with a clever sense of humor and some decent chops. On the band’s long-awaited major label debut album, his slight bad-boy leanings are fully realized, utilized, and emphasized. Gould’s frontman persona seems more dangerous than before. As he howls and croons about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, he sounds ready to kick ass, seduce rocker chicks, and break hearts.
In general, the entire band’s big-guitar alternative-rock cockiness is more amplified than ever on the 13-song collection. It seemed like the band was stuck slogging around in limbo not too long ago, so the tracks are surprisingly tight and energetic.
Recorded at Seven Forty Seven Studios in Memphis with producer Skidd Mills, the rock here is very well polished and painstakingly arranged. From the riffy lead-off song (and lead radio single) “Sex Ain’t Love” to the Cheap Trick-esque bubblegum power-pop of “Best Shot at a Love Song” and the lovey-dovey acoustic guitar-based ballad “San Francisco” (a song replete with orchestral strings), the glistening production on this album is impressive. It’s also very familiar. There’s no shortage of contemporary bands on Active Rock radio that sound almost exactly like this. The buffed-up sound might actually be distracting to some listeners who want to be sold by Gould’s power and passion.
Drummer Matt Reindollar and bassist Kenny Varner lock in together nicely through most of the collection, complementing each other with no-frills fills and embellishments. It could have sounded stiffer, but there’s life and vibrancy in their performance. The dual-guitar work between Gould and Drew Reindollar propels the heaviest moments.
Madam Adam’s hookier, more upbeat tunes, like the melodic but sinister “Drugs” and ’70s-style headbanger “Secret,” work better than the slower, more eagerly stylish anthems. Overall, the collection compresses elements of the post-grunge alt-rock deities these guys have loved and emulated for years. While it’s a bit derivative of certain classic and modern artists, they’re still aware of the romantic and sweaty side of their adolescence. (madamadam.com)
Madam Adam returns to Charleston in mid-May after completing a six-week U.S. tour.