A year ago, Electric Boys’ enduring frontman and part-time Hanoi Rocks guitarist Conny Bloom released a fun but confounding (to most of us) solo album in his native Swedish. The music was mostly 60s-influenced pop with some jazzy moments. It did not sound at all like the rubbery, bass-popping, party-hearty glam of his main band’s late-80s Funk-O-Metal Carpet Ride heyday, or even their bluesy, 70s-inspired 2018 album Ghost Ward Diaries.
So who knows where the Boys would go next, particularly during these exceedingly weird times. Ups!de Down obviously seemed like the most logical choice. Bloom and original bassist Andy Christell are joined this time by new guitarist Slim Thomander and fill-in drummer Jolle Atlagic, and collectively they’ve crafted probably the most mature classic rock-oriented album of their career. In the past the Electric Boys were known for being goofballs, really.
Between Bloom’s Bolan frizz and open-blouse rock-star preening and their deliciously cheesy ‘funk metal’, they made fun, hedonistic rock’n’roll as airy and summery as carnival candy floss.
While many of us could sure use some of that good-timey stuff right now, the band have gone in a decidedly different direction, opting for a semi-concept album about… well, the same shit everybody’s writing about these days: isolation, oppression, frustration, despair, hope etc. But before all that the album opens in extremely grand fashion with an almost eight-minute, prog-inspired instrumental that will weed out the casual fans, for sure.
Digging into the meat of the album, lead-off single Supergod is probably the closest they get to the ‘classic’ Electric Boys sound, albeit filtered through an organ-heavy Deep Purple crunch. But the funky, wah-wah-drenched guitars, leggy bass and free-flowing arena rockisms are all there. It’s a jammer. One of their best, even.
Elsewhere there’s melodramatic power ballads (Tumblin’ Dominos), Beatlesesque psychedelic power-ballads (It’s Not The End), post-grunge power ballads (Never Again Your Slave), a fun and slinky glitter-rock creepy-crawler (The Dude And The Dancers), and a handful of straight-ahead 70s hard rockers.
All of it is extremely well done, impeccably produced and played. But does it swing? Will it deliver the groovus maximus you crave and probably deserve? After all, isn’t that why you’d buy an Electric Boys album in the first place? Suffice to say Bootsy Collins will sleep well tonight; he has very little competition on this album.