CD Review: "Spent Bullets"
In opening his second solo album, "Spent Bullets," Adam Franklin bashes one out for old times' sake. The aptly titled "Surge" features pealing electric guitar, waves of distortion and a refrain that is both tuneful and surly: "Don't come back/I don't want you to," the British guitarist growls above the clamor. The song sounds a lot like Swervedriver, Franklin's band for most of the '90s.
"Surge" is a winner but also a ruse. The rest of the CD doesn't follow Swervedriver's ploy of blending dream-pop texture and hard-rock onslaught. Franklin never unplugs, but he does slow down and muse.
Although no one will mistake "Spent Bullets" for a James Taylor set, beneath the plangent sound are grown-up reflections on life and love.
Among Franklin's apparent inspirations are French pop renegade Serge Gainsbourg and the quiet side of the Velvet Underground. Yet he also loves Jimi Hendrix-style guitar fireworks and classic Top 40 pop-rock: The chorus of "Big Sur" suggests vintage Steely Dan, and "It Hurts to See You Go" is a melodic cousin of "Crimson and Clover," the 1968 Tommy James and the Shondells hit. The ability to compose such sturdy tunes is Franklin's major asset, whether he's pounding with Swervedriver (which had a reunion tour in 2008) or pondering on his own.
-- Mark Jenkins, Weekend (Jan. 2010)