Sound: For a lot of us the name Sponge immediately evokes memories of the early to mid-'90s, with the singles Molly and Plowed particularly coming to mind. It wasn't long after those hits that the Detroit band quickly became disconnected from airplay and major labels, and those transitions apparently took their toll. The only remaining original member is vocalist Vin Dombroski, and that is not always such a good sign. Whether or not you condone the frontman using the original band name, Dombroski has gone forward and released another Sponge album to perhaps help you better decide upon the matter. Galore Galore definitely doesn't feel like Sponge's Billboard days in terms of the quality of songwriting, but it does showcase some promising work by the band's current guitarists.
The CD has a hard time getting off the ground, with the first few tracks being a little too laid-back. The opener I Wanna Lose is pretty much your average straightforward rock tune, and it lacks the energy to truly draw you in to the rest of the CD. There is, however, a very cool breakdown that has a strong White Zombie feel. You wouldn't expect Sponge to stick that kind of breakdown in I Wanna Lose because it's so different from the rest of the arrangement, but it really helps to bolster the rest of the track. The following song, Through The Hard Times (Before The End), also ends up sounding closer to a ballad than a rock track and doesn't help to pick up the album's momentum.
Sponge tries it's hand at a more bluesy sound with I Did It Without The Drugs, and it actually has a bit of a watered-down Black Crowes sound to it. While it's a little forced at times, it ends up being one of the more memorable tracks on Galore Galore. I Did It Without The Drugs is also one of many tracks featuring female background singers, with that particular song taking a children's choir style (although sung by cherubic-sounding women) as the backing.
Although Galore Galore has it's problems, there are some fantastic riffs that run throughout and Dombroski sounds stronger vocally than he's ever been. Guitarists Kyle Neeley and Andy Patalan are at their best in the Velvet Revolver-esque No DOA On Sunday and Hard To Keep My Cool. I'm not sure how the songs are being arranged currently, but Sponge would really benefit having Neeley and Patalan inserting as many licks as possible into tracks in the future. // 6
Lyrics: Dombroski must have quite the dramatic past/present if the songs on Galore Galore are any indication. While it may keep the traditional rock and roll image alive, hearing song after song about drugs or living on the edge tends to get a bit dull. Whether it's a title like No DOA on Sunday or lyrics that state, There must be 1,000 ways to die, it all feels a little too predictable, particularly for a band that's been around as long as Sponge. // 6
Overall Impression: Galore Galore doesn't sound like the Sponge of old, which I suppose could be a sign of growth or maturity. But unfortunately it's hard to distinguish them from the sea of other rock bands out right now, and they need to find a way to stand out in this stage of their career. There are a few great songs, including Dig My Own Grave and Skill Of The Kill, and the incredible work of guitarists Neeley and Patalan is behind both of the tracks. While it does seem Dombroski made the correct choice with his current lineup, it seems they are still getting the chemistry just right. // 7