Dan Sartain - Too Tough to Live

by Cecily Mumby Rating:8 Release Date:2012-01-30

The rough guitars and raw vocals of Too Tough to Live instantly conjures images of The Ramones. It's a really noticeable change of direction from the rockabilly and blues sound of his last five albums, but it's still very recognisably the work of Dan Sartain. There is still the occasional nod towards the genres which so dominated his past work, but they are now just used as an influence and for the odd flourish. For anyone who knows Sartain's past work, the vintage-punk sound of this album might be a surprise.

The tone of the album is a real, refreshing mix. Throughout there's an array of angry, almost manic tracks, such as 'Nam Vet' and 'Fuck Friday'. Mingled in among these are boppy, upbeat love songs, most notably 'Now Now Now' (featuring Jane Wiedlin) alongside vaguely blasé songs about going to a swap meet and car insurance. Finally, this is all toped off with a sudden change of pace; the closing track, 'In Death' is a downbeat account of post-break-up depression. This eclectic collection of moods might sound weird, but works strangely well together, creating a world of emotion within one album.

This is no mean feat given the length of Too Tough to Live. It delivers 13 tracks in just less than 19 minutes, but this shouldn't put anyone off. It is punchy and has a really energetic feel, with driving rhythms and catchy tunes. It's not for everybody though; it caters to a niche audience rather than the majority of the pop listening public. But for anyone who likes the sound of first-wave punk, it is 19 minutes of music worth listening to.

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