by Al Kaufman
Who says the concept album is dead? In this time of downloads and and itunes, the hard rocking Architects prefer theme albums. 2006’s Revenge was full of songs about, well, revenge. And this year’s Vice, is all about, well . . . let’s just say that subtlety is not a strong point for these boys. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the first single, "Pills," is about. There are songs here about a gun toting, drug dealing, Cadillac driving father ("Daddy Wore Black"), and having sex with his girlfriend’s mom ("Mrs. Doyle"). But if those songs are too obtuse for you, on "Jersey Shore," about the seediness of the fabled shoreline, they include police sirens; you know, so you know it’s bad.
The music is just as in your face, which, in this case, is a good thing. Big guitar riffs abound. It’s easy to hear the influences of outlaw Southern rock bands like Molly Hatchet. But infectious, straight ahead guitar riffs also recall the likes of Kiss and Cheap Trick. What’s missing here is the fun. While most of the previously mentioned bands reveled in their vices, the Architects seem to struggle with them. In "Drop in the Bottle," songwriter and lead singer Brandon Phillips (who also runs Anodyne Records) pleads, "I don’t want to be alone anymore/Alone at the bottom of the bottle." On Vice, the sex, drugs and violence have repercussions, and that is not something you necessarily want to think about when you have your speakers turned up to 11.