Turbonegro – Sexual Harassment

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Review by Jack Arkell

Norwegian glam-punkers return. Expect bizarre results. 

It is slightly ironic that a band who decided against calling themselves ‘Nazipenis’ as they felt they wouldn’t sell records under that moniker have released an album called ‘Sexual Harassment’. However, sitting in a discography which includes 1996’s ‘Ass Cobra’ and the 1992 debut ‘Hot Cars and Spent Contraceptives’, ‘Sexual Harassment’ actually seems quite a conservative title.

Don’t assume that Turbonegro are a comedy band though. With influences such as Black Flag and Iggy Pop clearly bleeding into their output, these Scandinavians are well versed in laying down albums with real substance.

Album opener ‘I Got a Knife’ and the hook-laden ‘Shake Your Shit Machine’ are early indications that even with a reshuffled line up, the band’s quality remains. Indeed, Turbonegro are no strangers to change, counting ten former members, with this being drummer Tommy Manboy and vocalist The Duke of Nothing’s first Turbonegro album. The Duke (or Tony Sylvester to his family) has particularly large boots to fill, replacing long time member Hank von Helvete, but a more aggressive vocal delivery than his predecessor ensures that he not only differentiates himself from the band’s frontman of 17 years, but adds his own flavour to the pre-existing recipe.

‘TNA (The Nihilistic Army)’ is unquestionably one of the highlights of the collection, consisting of three minutes of pure funk reminiscent of an 80s hair metal band loaded with clever lyrics and defiant backing vocals.

The majestically titled ‘Dude Without a Face’ is the other prime pick, a dark number tinged with humour in which the protagonist ‘sacrifices a cat in the park’. The track is a clear sign of the band not taking themselves too seriously, barring the line ‘shadowed figures of band mates past, cold and bleeding raped in the grass’, which suggests that maybe some of the recent departures weren’t exactly amicable.

At just over 2 minutes long and boasting a much rougher sound than the other nine tracks, ‘Buried Alive’ is one of the heavier moments on ‘Sexual Harassment’, aided by its infuriated lyrical standpoint. ‘You Give Me Worms’ closes the record out, a typically uncompromising track chosen as the first single. Driven by a simplistic yet effective chorus, it ensures a strong finish is achieved.

For a band who have never even come close to capturing the attention of mainstream audiences (for quite obvious reasons), it is impressive that Turbonegro are still gracing stages 23 years after their inception. This, their ninth LP, isn’t going to get them inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable offering dripping with all of the sleaze and eccentricity that their listeners have come to expect.

‘Sexual Harassment’ isn’t without its weaker moments; ‘Rise Below’ and ‘Mister Sister’ are too easily forgotten, but such minor lapses aren’t enough to derail the rest of what is a largely excellent release.

‘God it’s good to have you back again’, The Duke of Nothing sings during ‘Hello Darkness’. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Rated 8 out of 10