Adam Ant - Adam Ant is The BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying The Gunner's Daughter
Since his re-emergence onto the live circuit in 2010, Adam Ant has proved his doubters wrong by staying on track and delivering fan-pleasing sets that include the hits and a hefty draw on obscure b-sides and his early punk material. Throwing himself back into the media game, alongside a willingness to talk openly about his battles with mental health issues, has lifted his profile to a level not seen since the mid-1980s.
Adam Ant is ... - the title is meant to suggest the tagline from an old movie - has been mooted for as long as he's been back in the public eye, and therein lies a problem, as it turns out the finished album is, literally, a collection of demos that have been kicking around for many months. Lead single 'Cool Zombie' (co-written with Oasis/Beady Eye man Andy Bell) has had a polish, but the rest of the album reeks of a half-arsedness. Lyrics are half-mumbled into the microphone, backing vocals warble in-and-out of the mix while the drums often have a sub-Bontempi quality. 'Sausage' and 'Hardmentoughblokes' for example, sound like they were recorded on a 4-track machine - which is fine for Guided By Voices, less so for one of pop music's greatest acts. The absence of a guiding hand (a role guitarist and co-writer Marco Pirroni performed for many years) is patently obvious.
Technical issues aside, long-time fans will recognise this as a fairly typical Adam Ant solo album that re-visits the kinds of musical templates he's gravitated towards since casting aside The Ants moniker. There are hints of rockabilly, smatterings of maudlin MOR and semi-experimental sketches like 'Darlin' Boy' whose flaws are exacerbated by the limitations of the recordings. 'Dirty Beast' has a definite Smiths-like shimmer but goes nowhere fast with it; 'Punkyounggirl' has an air of Dirk Wears White Sox-era Ants but there have been better times to drop a song about inter-generational sex ("Lift up your skirt, let me lick the alphabet."). There's a core of a decent album here - the pounding 'Bullshit' just about saves the day at the end - but the damage has already been done.
During a month when a musical chameleon has re-emerged after a self-imposed exile, new material from another icon who changed the lives of a younger generation is welcome, but to say ...Gunners Daughter is a disappointment is a considerable understatement.