Sound — 8
Adam and the Ants were an English New Wave band who rose to prominence during the 1980s. Their heyday was short-lived, and in more recent years charismatic frontman Adam Ant has become better known for his mental health issues. Brandishing heavy make-up and flamboyant costumes, the band is also associated with the New Romantic movement, but how much substance lies behind their style?
"Kings of the Wild Frontier" was their sophomore album, and is credited with introducing the Burundi Beat drum sound to popular music. I'm not sure what this means, but the album is definitely permeated by a distinctive, George of the jungle type drum sound which accentuates the thundering pulse of the snare above all else. The band is very rowdy to a point that some people might find annoying, with several songs featuring crowd chants and cuckoo call vocals. The scope of the guitar work is quite interesting, such as the murky chords and heady feedback of the title track, "The Magnificent Five"'s transition from chimey, Johnny Marr chords to molten riffing, funky "Don't Be Square (Be There)" and the almost Hank Marvin timbre of "Los Rancheros." "Antmusic" exhibits some quirky but economical lead guitar.
Lyrics — 7
"Antmusic" hinges on catchy pop lyricism, "it's so sad when you're young to be told you're having fun," "unlock the jukebox and do us all a favour, that music's lost its taste so try another flavour." The band seem more interested in being catchy than meaningful, at best the melodies carry the silliness of lyrics such as "Feed Me to the Lions." They use a recurring theme of ants, ant music, which is worked into many of the songs. Adam Ant is camp as Christmas, he isn't a great vocalist and you will either love or hate his style of delivery. One thing they can't be accused of is cliche.
Overall Impression — 7
This album is an acquired taste - I have to at least praise it for not sounding quite like anything else. Adam and the Ants had their own brand of music, loud, camp, snotty and obnoxious. Understated is not a word to describe any part of this album. I don't mean to be politically incorrect, but if you could choose any eighties pop star who was always likely to go mad, it was probably Adam Ant. Some people will gravitate to the band purely for this reason, out of morbid curiosity, which I think was my main reason for investigating them. Some people will genuinely like the sound too, but you have to be in the mood for some very in-your-face music. "Antmusic" is worth a listen.