You could never accuse South Philly punks Body Spray of taking themselves too seriously. But amongst tongue in cheek lyrics chronicling the misadventures of white trash neighborhood dudes (“Hoagie Head”), asshole policemen (“Unpopular Cop”), cigarette fiends (“Kool Intentions”) and douchebag gym rats (“Muscleface”), lies the mile wide, mean spirited sardonic streak that’s always been a proud staple of alt rock, from early “college radio” pioneers like The Melvins and The Pixies to current noise heroes Red Fang and Whores. Body Spray acquit themselves well within the fraternity on the seven tracks that make up “Hell”.
Aforementioned lead track “Hoagie Head” sonically slaps the listener upside the head with a raw attack melding the fuzzy garage rock of early Queens of the Stone Age with the unhinged technique of Canadian neo grunge armada Metz. “Unpopular Cop” follows with a melancholy, melodic guitar riff that immediately lodged itself into my skull and wouldn’t get out, followed by a gloriously swirling, screeching freak out that would make “Bleach” era Nirvana jealous.
Old school Resident Evil voice samples? Yes. Plodding, self-flagellating odes to drunken loneliness and isolation in the vein of Black Flag’s immortal “Six Pack”? Also yes. “Slower Child” is a song for me. Body Spray double down on the wistful self-loathing with “Kool Intentions” and “Muscleface”, the latter of which is led by a heavy blues riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on one of the early Danzig records, before “Fake Gun” bursts through with the album’s most head banging, fist pumping crust punk anthem yet.
You hear terms like “Grunge Revival” and “90’s Nostalgia” bandied about left and right but when a band truly taps into the cynical, nihilistic energy of the grunge era it’s a bittersweet and beautiful thing to behold, especially for those of us that grew up on bands like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden at their most clever and angry, and never really learned how to be anything else. To that effect, Body Spray gets downright poetic on “Hell” finale “Death Deed”: “I’m not afraid but I don’t want to die. There’s lots of things I never got to try, and I have principles I must abide. I have activities, but I never get to go. I feel my whole life spinning gently out of control.”