Last year, ’80s metal stalwarts Motley Crue announced that they were getting back together with original vocalist Vince Neil, who acrimoniously left the band, in 1992. They claimed that the reunion would lead them in a new direction that would defy expectations and launch them into the next millennium. For the most part, they were wrong.
The band’s eighth record, Generation Swine, is loaded with cutting-edge production and grinding industrial effects, but instead of accompanying the noise with vision, Motley Crue still rely on cornball glam-metal techniques that went out with poufy hair and spandex. On “Beauty,” a sleazy, drawling vocal, punchy staccato guitars and lurching electronics create the perféct union of ZZ Top celebration and Nine Inch Nails self-immolation, only to be soiled by a fatuous chorus. In “Glitter,” intriguing keyboard blips morph into a trite, histrionic vocal charade.
When Motley Crue lay off the fluff, they can still send shivers down the boniest spines. “Find Myself” is a festering pit of warbling guitars and dirtbag lyrics (“I’m a drunk motherfucker/I’m a smacked-out lover/Ain’t no one tougher”), and “Let Us Prey” is an apocalyptic cut laden with menacing metallic crunch and caustic sound effects.
But fans who like to be rocked to pieces crave consistency, and Generation Swine is more schizophrenic than Wesley Willis. Whiny ballads flounder dazedly alongside hardcore beats and woozy melodies, and mean-dude bravado clashes with goopy heart-on-sleeve sentiment. A violin-saturated love song like “Brandon” — which is about drummer Tommy Lee’s son and features the ludicrous lyrics “Brandon, I love you; I love her; she is your mom” — may touch Pamela Anderson Lee. But the only tears that Motley Crue fans will shed are ones of loss.