New York Dolls

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Inventing punk was a dirty job. You had to make up new rules for the guitar, cram your hairy appendages into ladies’ pumps and lingerie, get hooked on hard drugs, and squeeze Howlin’ Wolf and the Shangri-Las into the same three minutes. That routine shortened the lives of two New York Dolls and probably contributed to the death of a third; you can’t blame the remaining two if they’re no longer in an inventive mood. But 32 years since their last album, singer David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain haven’t made a nostalgia piece. One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This contains nothing as loud as the proto-hardcore splat of “Trash” — Sylvain’s arrangements tame the original mayhem — but Johansen has lost none of the pathos and individualism that lent “Human Being” its impact. He embraces the danger of love and art in “Dancing on the Lip of a Volcano,” restates his perv-positive universality on “Rainbow Store,” and teases fundamentalists in “Dance Like a Monkey.” Younger bands will innovate, but they have a lot less to say than this aging thrift-shop romantic. And few recent rock releases have felt so purposeful or satisfying.

Categories: Music