Cinco Diablo

by: Saliva

On "My Own Worst Enemy" -- the second track of Cinco Diablo, their fifth album for Island, sixth if you count their 1997 independent release -- Saliva sing the immortal words "you did this to me," a phrase that succinctly sums up their world-view ever since their debut in 1997, but unlike its predecessor, Blood Stained Love Story, Cinco Diablo at least has the impression of forward motion. To be sure, Saliva haven't ditched the churning heavy murky post-grunge that has been their calling card since the beginning, but they dabble in a little bit of awkward rap-rock on the opening "Family Reunion," adopt a little bit of Coldplay's cinematic sweep on the closing "So Long," and -- most surprisingly of all -- come up with a really effective Skynyrd-meets-ZZ Top boogie on "Southern Girls," alas, not a Cheap Trick cover but an inversion of Crüe's "Girls Girls Girls" that's the loosest Saliva has ever been on record, and arguably the best. Certainly, having that little dose of redneck rock is a better way for the bandmembers to age than the time they spend with vindictive post-grunge, the kind that clots the flow of the first half of the album, suggesting that the band is older but none the wiser. But the rest of Cinco Diablo indicates that despite that silly title, the group is starting to figure out how to enter middle age with a modicum of grace. Now if only they could shed their old teenage Hot Topic clothes and chains, they'd be onto something. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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