Artist: Billy Idol
Title: The Roadside EP
Release Date: 17th September 2021
Label: Dark Horse Records / BMG
Once upon a time, BILLY IDOL, had a motorbike accident and nearly died. Now, if you are unaware of this then you are the only person left alive who is - it’s his Big Story, the thing that somehow makes that bland soft-rock he churns out seem edgy, like the fake sneer and the shaky punk credentials. To be fair, a serious brush with death is not to be trivialised or poked fun at, and that’s not really the point here. But on lead track ‘Bitter Taste’, on new EP ‘The Roadside’, he’s clearly spent lockdown revisiting this event and putting it into context, rather like a child, one suspects, matching up shapes with holes. Which is fine. Except it has that bizarre mix of whimpering self-pity, phony introspection, and embarrassing braggadocio that rendered his last album such an unpalatable mess, at least lyrically. Nobody cares anymore Billy. The whole world turned inwardly recently and suffered through loneliness and loss. And most of them from a far less financially secure position.
Musically, ‘Bitter Taste’ is fab. Like the soundtrack to a widescreen road movie, there’s a BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN meets CHRIS ISAAK melody and a sense of nostalgia and longing galloping slowly through this, kicking up a dirt trail and startling the crows picking over dead things at the side of the highway. See? It is possible to say good things about our grizzled anti-hero… But wait! There’s what sounds like ‘Flashdance’ lurking just around the corner. And 65 year old Billy starts coming on all lascivious and cheeky, like watching your grandad putting his teeth in before hitting the town. Horrific. ‘Baby Put Your Clothes Back On’ is just as utterly dreadful as it sounds, lost in some dreadful, dreary time-loop of lumpen pub soft-rock, and to open the whole ghastly experience there’s the excruciating ‘Rita Hayworth’, a song that is the aural equivalent of putting lotion on haemorrhoids.
How BILLY IDOL managed to extend his career beyond those few admittedly memorable hits from the 80s is one of life’s mysteries that lingers like an oily stain on your favourite jeans. If having “a voice” and “a look” is the key to success, then I nominate the Alpine Marmot, a veritable god amongst rodents and a far superior lyricist.
01. Rita Hayworth
02. Bitter Taste
03. U Don’t Have To Kiss Me Like That
04. Baby Put Your Clothes Back On
https://billyidol.net / https://www.facebook.com/BillyIdol
Total: 3 / 10