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Poison Boys - Don’t You Turn On Me (Riot/Golden Robot)

2 August 2022

Finding the midpoint in the trifecta of hard rock sleaze, punk rock energy and power pop accessibility is damn difficult, and you can probably count the number of bands who’ve done it on one hand. Well, get the other hand ready, because Chicago’s Poison Boys nail it on their second LP Don’t You Turn On Me. (Originally released last year on digital, the record has now reached vinyl.)

Led since their 2014 inception by guitarist/vocalist Matt Dudzik, these guys probably can’t cross the street without sneering at oncoming traffic, but they know from hooks. Check out the title track as absolute proof that rock & roll’s corpse does more than twitch – it dances. Nodding towards obvious inspirations like the Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” and the Stooges’ “Gimme Danger,” “Sweet Marie” makes acoustic guitars sound threatening, even though we love the risk. “Can’t Get You Out of My Mind” takes pop-punk out on a date, but forgot to take a shower first, while “Dick in the Dirt” drops any pretense of kindness and gets downright rude. “I Was Cryin’” manages to slam seventies hard rock and sax-laced proto-punk together and produce one ugly, beautiful baby.

Interestingly, the band drops the ‘tude and shows some vulnerability on the closing cut “Take a Chance With Me,” even as the ghost of Jerry Lee Lewis tries to fuck up our hero’s chances in the background. Despite being third in line, the blazing “Day By Day” screams stage-melting show closer. With a song in their hearts and spit on their lips, Poison Boys clearly have both kinds of music down – the rock and the roll.