Sahara Hot Nights: Jennie Bomb (Jet Set)

Just put on Jennie Bomb and dare to tell me that the form isn’t still alive and kicking serious ass. Well, one thing’s for sure: rock is not dead, contrary to what a few cynics may think. Just put on the song “On Top Of Your World,” a killer song from the second full-length album (and Jetset debut) by Sweden’s Sahara Hotnights, and dare to tell me that the form isn’t still alive and kicking serious ass. The elemental riff and the sheer exuberance of the performance on this tune are guaranteed to cure, or at least alleviate, whatever apathetic or sour mood you may be stuck in. Sahara Hotnights could be simplistically viewed as the female equivalent of the Hives, and they offer further proof that Sweden has evidently become a garage-rock capital. But youngsters thrashing at guitars, regardless of gender, do not guarantee the goods. What makes Jennie Bomb, SHN’s new 11-song platter, a success is the adherence to timeless rock and roll principles (i.e., three chords and an attitude, the ability to create insistent riffs/choruses) coupled with Maria Andersson’s fiery but disciplined vocals and some songs that are actually songs, not just garage-band rants. The hard-edged opener, “Alright, Alright,” is punchy enough, but add the more than “Alright” chorus, and the potency is undeniable. “Fire Alarm” does, indeed, get the rock flames burnin’ high, with a solid new-wave riff and a great little clanky sound right before the third verse. And “Down and Out” is an irresistible burst of sonic zing that is about as good as this genre ever gets. The music rarely pauses for air; there’s nary a ballad in sight. Besides Andersson, SHN’s lineup includes guitarist Jennie Asplund, bassist Johanna Asplund, and drummer Josephine Forsman.

They all sing and play like they mean it, whatever “it” is. The girls have probably learned from American punk like the Runaways and early Blondie (both of whom they sometimes resemble), and British punk like the Clash. They’ve got the basics down. But Sahara Hotnights would seem to have more than a little ambition. The background chorus on tunes like “With or Without Control” and the self-confidence evident in “Only the Fakes Survive” and “Fall Into Line” are indicators that SHN want to be more than mere garage-rock practitioners, that they have the chops and discipline to evolve into something more lasting. Sure, “No Big Deal” may not, in fact, be one, and certainly nothing here is particularly original. But style and attitude count for so much in rock and roll, and these gals have both in full measure. Jennie Bomb doesn’t waste time doing its thing; it’s just over half an hour long, and many tunes don’t even break the three-minute mark. It’s just one big, brazen adrenaline rush with killer hooks and personality to spare. “Work harder/Everything’s on the line” sings Andersson in “Are You Happy Now?” (which, for some reason, reminded me of Australia’s Midnight Oil). If these intense young Swedish women worked any harder, we’d have to call the rock ’n’ roll paramedics to slow ’em down.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply