I once heard second hand, third hand, or maybe fifteenth hand, that Michael Bay gave an interview where he said that he got into directing (and I’m paraphrasing) for the ladies. If that is a true story, it is an admirable amount of candidness. It is also an anecdote I would expect from a lot of rock and roll bands. I imagine many young aspiring musicians watching the groupie scene during “Young Lust” from the movie version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and immediately asking their parents to buy them a guitar.
Gentlemans Pistols are no exception. Everything from their band name to the title of their sophomore LP, At Her Majesty’s Pleasure, reeks of “doing it for the ladies.” Lyrics like “some girls don’t know what’s good for them” and “I’m about as subtle as a Sherman Tank but twice as fun to ride” further solidify that argument. They could have easily called the album “Just the Tip” and we would have gotten the message.
Behind all that posturing is a band that can rock. Dirty riffs make up each of the 12 tracks on the album, and most are catchy, but that is what they are meant to do. The problem? They tend to overdo it a bit; At Her Majesty’s Pleasure is nothing but a 48 minute riff-fest. Like how Bay loves sweeping shots of his protagonists looking up to the sky and explosions, Gentlemans Pistols love their guitars and bass progressions. I wonder if there is a notebook somewhere in a UK flat that reads “riffs = money + women.” James Atkinson’s vocals often match the riffs, which creates a catchy tune but not much depth. Again, like a Bay film, there is a lot of style but no substance.
Part of the issue is that there appears to be a revolving door for band members. It seems every time the Gentlemans Pistols issue a press release, they have either a new guitarist or a new drummer. Like an offensive line in football, the longer the members play together, the better and more cohesive they are as a group. This band has some all stars but is still looking to solidify its sound.
If you want an album that sounds like rock but that you don’t have to think too much about, you can pick up At Her Majesty’s Pleasure. Plenty of people love Michael Bay films, because they know what to expect: lots of action and explosions. He is good at what he does; Gentlemans Pistols are good at what they do as well. However, much like I like my movies to challenge my brain, I want my music to turn me on to something different and not offer me more of the same.
But I have to respect them doing it for the ladies.