Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip
First Appeared in The Music Box, February 2007, Volume 14, #2
Written by Melissa Stroh
After spending years on the road with the likes of Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, and Drive-By Truckers, Athens’ own The Whigs decided to buckle down and record its debut Give ’Em All a Big Fat Lip. The boys, undoubtedly influenced by the extraordinary 40-Watt Club next door, laid down tracks in summer 2005 with engineer Billy Bennett. The resulting garage-pop album offers a fluid mixture of fast-talking storylines and cleverly placed percussion that heads straight to the heart of the matter. Lead singer Hank Sullivant’s gritty voice is just different enough to stand out above the distorted guitars as he delivers the group’s thoughtful, witty songs.
Give ’Em All a Big Fat Lip begins with the brute force of Can’t Hear You Coming. The quick-flicked cowbell and hard percussion help the tune to live up to the connotations of the album’s title. Sullivant hoarsely sings/screams his way through the song with ease as he emits outbursts of anger that don’t feel premeditated. As the outing progresses, The Whigs’ desire to show up the thousands of other bands in Athens continues. Like a little brother wanting to prove himself, the trio balances its fast-paced, aggressive songs with calmer material.
For the most part, this approach works, though The Whigs does hit a wall shortly after it quietly slides into Written Invitation. After the manner in which it tones down its agitation, listeners likely would expect Give ’Em All a Big Fat Lip to end with a bang. Not quite. The album unfortunately remains in a lulled state right until its conclusion. Although tracks like Say Hello and OK Alright are well constructed, they don’t provide the punch that is necessary for restoring the effort’s energy.
The biggest disappointment about Give ’Em All a Big Fat Lip, however, comes from the title track. While the song’s moniker holds a lot of potential, the tune, in actuality, peters out too soon. What could have been a dirty, abrasive, fight song is represented as a mere shadow of its possibilities. By falling back on a coarser style of singing, Sullivant tries to salvage what he can, but it’s just not enough.
Overall, Give ’Em All a Big Fat Lip unknowingly is sliced into three stages: middle-of-the-party dance music, after-party chill music, and next-morning memory music. Take advantage of this album for what it is: a journey through the highs and lows of normal life.
Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box