"Viking" CD (Hellcat)
If the promise displayed by Lars Frederiksen's first album was a surprise, then this sophomore release is more shocking than EST for all the wrong reasons. The first record, much like Rancid's best work, demonstrated an acute understanding of the stresses that working second or third shift carry and making do as a struggling punk. And then this hit. I barely know what to say. We can begin with the liner notes, because the censored pictures of semi-attractive women are the best part of this release. It's true that a picture says a thousand words and the generic images of women affecting lustful expressions pretty much say it all. This is half-assed punk by numbers with few melodies, few hooks and little insight. It's all about posturing - Lars doesn't go anywhere without his switchblade. He's a tough streetwise punk. He's had threesomes in ... well, pretty much every city he can seem to think of. He's had sex with hookers. So what? What, in the end, does all this boasting and bragging signify? How does this relate in any way to anything which provides any sort of insight into the human condition, the loneliness and sorrow that most punks are all too intimately familiar with and which Frederiksen captured on his debut? The short answer is that it doesn't relate at all, that it signifies fuck all and that this has more in common with a bling-bling era hip hop record than it does with punk ... except that most rappers talking about their money, bitches and Cristal can find a hook to save their lives.