I couldn’t help myself, I had to write a review of L7’s “Hungry For Stink” after reading a dismissive review of it on a CD site…
Although it did not equal the commercial success of “Bricks Are Heavy”, “Hungry For Stink” is many fan’s favorite, both of L7 and for the the Grunge era. The music, lyrics, production and feel are dark and heavy, but a bright, manic, defiant, optimism shines through the whole record, not unlike that in the Ramones’ classics, “Road To Ruin” and “Rocket To Russia”. Although recorded very nicely in a studio, the sound is that of a working band that’s tight, in practice and has some great, new, songs they’ve worked out on stage and want to capture. No studio experiments, and nothing self concious or half-serious about it.
“Hungry…” erupts with the anthemic “Andres”, a song about “a guy with long hair” who can fix the air conditioning… the heavy groove proves in every sweet, thundering, bar, that ovaries don’t get in the way of playing rock and roll. And never did.
The 11 songs that follow range from the punk dirges “Baggage” and “Talk Box” to the sharp, alienated rock of “Can I Run” and “Freak Magnet”; the hard, power-pop sensability of “Riding With A Movie Star”, “Stuck Here Again”, and “She Has Eyes” and more mosh-pit screamers like “The Bomb”, “Shirley”, and “Fuel My Fire”.
A little bit of rock-star introspecton, grunge-style, slips in with “Questioning My Sanity”
“Shirley” is about drag-racer Shirley Muldowney, including hilarious, seamlessly integrated, samples from her bio-pic “Heart Like A Wheel”.
Song writing and lead-vocals are shared by all four band members, which only adds to the grace and polish of the performance. Rough, abrasive, aggressive and like it is, straight from the shoulder, for sure. But its not just attitude and genius; in the day, L7 had the chops AND the brains to take every opportunity, and apparently had a great time doing it. And you can still share that grinding, roaring, joy.
*About that optimistic light- except, perhaps, “Talkbox”, which is a very effective slice of a bad dream. Great, but strong stuff.