Review by TOMMY MORAIS
A lot of “modern” and not a whole lot of “vintage”
I was a fan of Sixx:A.M. when they first came out with The Heroin Diaries in 2007. At the time the music was fresh and just what I needed. I was in high school and going through difficult times and things teenagers go through. I was already in love with Motley Crue for a few years at that point. Then when Nikki Sixx came out strong with Sixx:A.M., I respected him even more as he was now in two bands that l loved.
I thought Sixx:A.M. had everything going for them; a great single, excellent songwriting and I could identify with the music and some of the lyrical content. The accompanying book also made for a wonderful experience. I enjoyed the band’s second album and bought it on release day in 2011. I liked a lot of that album and its accompanying book even though l felt it wasn’t as impressive as the first. I stayed a fan and continued following the band anticipation their next release. 2014 rolls along (which shows this review is a bit overdue) and hence we have Sixx:A.M.’s third studio album, Modern Vintage.
The album begins with “Stars”, a very good indication of the album’s overall sound, style and feel. To me it’s average at best; it’s not unlistenable but it doesn’t grab you in the way it intends to. It has “made for radio” all over it. “Gotta Get it Right” is the first single and didn’t do anything to encourage me to pick up the album. I can get the over almost Christmas-like feel it has but I think where they fail lies in the chorus.
“Relief” is straight ahead rock and with its lyrical theme sounds more like the Sixx:A.M. of the past. “Gotta Get You Some” is a twist and a nice change of pace with its acoustic guitars before kicking it into high gear for the chorus. It too has a very commercial ready for radio feel, only slightly darker. I’m not in love with this song but James Michael does a very good singing performance.
“Let’s Go” and “Give Me A Love” are probably the closest to heavy rock tracks on here (and to the sound of previous Sixx:A.M.). “Let’s Go” is especially a true fist-pumper and a highlight. “Drive” is a an awful cover of the same song by The Cars. It sounds dull and the electronic euro pop in the background makes it unlistenable. The guitar work is the only good thing about it. “Hyperventilate” is nice and short, one of the better songs on Modern Vintage. “High On The Music” sounds like a terrible young pop band and not like Sixx:A.M. or a rock band, going for that radio hit feel-good type song. “Miracle” has cool groove and a vintage feel to it, on the other hand it also honestly sounds like a Maroon 5 tune. “Before it’s Over” has a jazzy/lounge feel to it, which I give them credit for trying to branch out.
I’m not sure what I was expecting out of Modern Vintage or if I was expecting anything at all to be honest. I loved the first album, liked the second and bought the third out of loyalty and because I thought there’d be at least a few songs l liked. I wasn’t terribly into the first single but I didn’t let that discourage me. Well I’m sad to say that after multiple listens it’s a bit underwhelming. The songs don’t “rock” as hard and sound more mainstream and bland; that is both musically and lyrically. The songs are more ‘happy’ this time around. In theory this should work but it doesn’t. There’s no anger, no frustration, desperation, none of what made Sixx:A.M.’s core on the first two albums. I’m actually surprised to see so many high ratings and reviews praising the album everywhere. Maybe we didn’t listen to the same Sixx:A.M. band previously, I don’t know. All l know is what I hear and this album just doesn’t do anything for me and I don’t enjoy the direction they went in. A lot has been said about the drum sound which feels artificial and I agree, it just doesn’t work all that well this time around.
Modern Vintage ends up sounding like a lot of modern and no vintage. Alas I am not a hater. It pains me because I’m a Crue fan, a Sixx:A.M. fan and a Nikki Sixx fan and l really wanted to enjoy it. It just feels less inspired than the first two and even though it has a different sound it doesn’t break any new ground. It tries to hard to go for the commercial radio songs and it’s like they forgot who they where. Hopefully they’ll get it back and deliver another good album. In the meantime this is terrible.
[LeBrain’s note: I’ve listened to the album, and I agree with Tommy 100%. In fact, my review can be found below.]