If a lull occurs at your next party, here’s a way to liven things up: Play a lyric from AC/DC’s 16th album, then have guests guess the next line before singer Brian Johnson sings it. Take “Cover You in Oil,” for example: “Cover you in oil! Cover you in oil!” What would be the natural next line? “My love is at full boil,” perhaps? “My snake will soon uncoil”? Actually, it’s “Let me cover you in oil.”
Look, these lads have never been subtle. On Ballbreaker, their first studio album after a five-year hiatus, AC/DC deliver the same goods they’ve delivered for 21 years: fist-pumpin’ riffs, the dual-guitar assault of brothers Angus and Malcolm Young and lyrics rife with double-entendres. Hell, they’re practically single-entendres. Consider this zinger from “The Honey Roll”: “Honey roll over and lettuce on top.” That’s one of the album’s better tracks.
Well, there are a few vague fugitive-guy-runnin’-from-the-law songs here (“Burnin’ Alive,” “The Furor”), but most tracks are about gettin’ it on. “Hard As a Rock” (a line sung 21 times) is vintage AC/DC, from the comfy, familiar head-banging groove to forehead-slapping lines like “Her hot potatoes will elevate you.” Overall, Ballbreaker is tighter and slightly cleaner sounding than the group’s last studio album, the muddy and plodding Razor’s Edge. The boys seem to be going for a bluesier feel, particularly on “Boogie Man” and the thumping let’s-partay anthem “Whiskey on the Rocks.” Other than that, there are no surprises except that Johnson’s banshee vocals are even more shrill these days.
Have AC/DC written another “You Shook Me All Night Long”? No. Do they deliver guilty-pleasure metal like no other hard-rock band? Yup. Their longevity can be credited to two factors: nostalgia and the fact that AC/DC still view the world through the mind of a horny 15-year-old. God knows there’s more than enough of them to go around.
Or, as the boys put it in “Caught With Your Pants Down,” “Wanna dance, wanna sing/Whip you with that lickin’ thing.”