It may be a hard lesson to learn, but Detroit garage rock lived and died with the Stooges and the MC5. Today the world beyond Motor City limits can sustain only one Detroit rock revival band at a time. This group must possess something special – a heady blend of charisma, chops, chaos, skill, bravado, noise, hair, insanity, defiance, and genius – in addition to reverence for the spirit of the genre’s architects. (That band might currently be the Dirtbombs.)
The Hard Lessons are most definitely not that band. Their debut full-length, Gasoline, is fuel for the fire into which all wannabe retro Detroit rock-and-rollers should be flung. The awkwardly uneven record progresses from contrived (the infectious yet all-too-obvious opener “Feel Alright”) to sentimental (singer Ko Ko Louise is more than a little bit country in “That Other Girl” [mp3]) to plain irrelevant (“I take milk and sugar in my tea,” pronounces Agostino Visocchi in “Milk and Sugar” [mp3] – now that’s rock and roll).
Only a few of Gasoline‘s 11 songs approach success. Highlights “Share Your Vanity” and “Feedback Loop” draw from the raw, primitive energy that defines Detroit garage rock. If the Hard Lessons could throw ten more songs like these on a record, they just might get somewhere. But if not, forget about it – the rest of their stuff is simply no fun.