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CD REVIEW: Undesirables and Anarchists by The Little Wretches
By Bethany Page
The Little Wretches can tell you exactly who their friends are in the new album, Undesirables and Anarchists. Much to the chagrin of the listener, their friends are exactly the kind that end up with the best stories, and sometimes come from the other side of the tracks. I don’t know about you, but they sound like the type of people for which I’d drop previous plans. The same goes for these Pittsburgh, Penn., rockers – The Little Wretches have the moxie and the stamina to give listeners’ a 12-track, no fast-forwarding allowed, album.
This album plays all the way through with no speed bumps or hiccups. The only hesitation to this remark is the ninth track, “Some Day.” It’s more of a water break, than anything. From start to finish, this rock band powers through a charming potpourri of rockabilly, rock & roll, rock and punk. Since the 1980s, Pittsburgh has been holding this fan favorite for itself, with interest from major record labels calling here and there. Lead singer and songwriter/composer, Robert Wagner has wrestled through the surprising amount of rotating band members. His work in this new album is incredibly witty. Joining Wagner on the record are Rosa “Rosa Rocks” Colucci (vocals), Mike Madden (drums), John Carson (bass guitar) and HK Hilner (piano). Undesirables and Anarchists is the 10th The Little Wretches album.
“I Rather Would Go” is a major highlight. My adrenaline sat shotgun to the downbeat. The freeing, extra movement created from the rhythm section and Wagner’s earnest tales is cause for celebration, albeit, the darker lyrics. You learn to love your captor / and captivity you crave / your chains you think are jewelry / your comfort is your gauge / it this is good enough for everybody else / to me it’s still a cage, Wagner drills.
“Who Is America” also spoke to me. Wagner throws out the lyrics like he’s up on stage, hovering over a mass of teenagers ready to rock. It’s not the angst you’d expect, but a bit of a finger to the man. He points the mirror in front of us and asks if we’re willing to recognize the poor just the same way we elevate the wealthy.
And in a delicious twist, “All of My Friends” has a dizzying spell of tightly wound prose. All of my friends know cause and effect / we’re notably known for abuse and neglect / we’re natural targets, we’re perfect to blame / none of my friends ever runs out of shame, sings Wagner. Not all listeners want to hear happy-go-lucky lyrics nonstop and while Wagner seems like a perfectly charm of a fellow, there is a gruff to him that is positively delightful.
Other nods go out to “Running (Was The Only Thing To Do)”. Colucci takes the mic on this track and it’s a nice, album send off. She sings with heart and experience. All I really needed was some breathing room / until my hiding place slowly became my tomb / had me down so long I started to assume / that I would never see the light of day, she poignantly delivers. Her voice and the band’s words definitely need to hit the masses – Undesirables and Anarchists exceeds expectations.
by Bethany Page