Punk and glam rock have had a protracted, unsavory affair dating all the way back to the early 70s with the likes of the Stooges, and, especially, the New York Dolls. There’s something about a brash, up-tempo racket embellished in a twisted, semi-androgynous façade that adds new dimension to the music. Sweden’s Backyard Babies have been putting their own spin on this unholy matrimony for 30 years as of 2019, and latest album, Sliver & Gold, celebrates the legacy in spades.
Having the same lineup for three decades—guitarist/singer (and one-time Hellacopter) Dregen, singer/guitarist Nicke Borg, Johan Blomqvist on bass, and Peder Carlsson on drums—has enabled the band a bit of latitude since its early days of cranking out mainly anthemic, Social Distortion-esque punk rock.
Sliver & Gold kicks off with driving rocker “Good Morning Midnight” leveraging Borg’s gritty vocals to the max. “Simple Being Sold” continues the drive with a slightly melancholy feel set to a punk beat. Lead single “Shovin’ Rocks” features clever, call-and-response vocal tradeoffs from Borg and Dregen, all leading to a trashy-but-melodic chorus reminiscent of pre-heroin era Rolling Stones. Sounding akin to a populist folk ballad (think: The Pogues meet The Clash), “Ragged Flag” stands as one of the band’s best with a fist-pumping, chain-gang refrain and incessant hammering riff.
With a clean, booming production that elevates the band’s sonic assault without coming across too slick, Sliver & Gold showcases the Backyard Babies at the peak of their powers, even if it’s 30 years into their career.