So, Who's Paranoid?

by: The Damned

Seven years after Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible buried the hatchet and begin recording together again as the Damned with the album Grave Disorder, the Occasionally Dynamic Duo has returned with 2008's So, Who's Paranoid?, and how likely you are to enjoy this album has a lot to do with your perspective on this band's history. If you loved the Damned when they were "hell-for-leather destruction merchants" (as Sensible once put it) on albums like Damned Damned Damned or Machine Gun Etiquette, you're going to be disappointed; there is practically nothing on So, Who's Paranoid? that resembles punk rock as we know it, and instead of short, thrashy rock tunes powered by dirty sounding guitars and a speed-addled lunatic on drums, this is a slick and carefully crafted disc complete with keyboards, big guitar solos, and even the occasional appearance of strings and a choir. Then again, if latter-day Damned sets like Strawberries and Phantasmagoria were more to your liking, So, Who's Paranoid? will probably be your cup of tea; while the goth-influenced approach of those LPs has been muted, this is better-than-average pop-conscious Damned, with Vanian's vocals in fine shape and recent additions Monty Oxymoron (keyboards), Stuart West (bass), and Pinch (drums) sounding tight and confident. But regardless which era of the Damned is your favorite, it's hard to get past the fact that most of the songs on So, Who's Paranoid? aren't up to the standards of this band's original run (unless you count the stuff on the disastrous Anything), and someone should have had the good sense to tell Captain Sensible that he isn't a guitar hero, and that the 14-minute pseudo-psychedelic number that closes out the set, "Dark Asteroid," is a serious mistake. In short: if you dig "New Rose" this won't move you, if "Grimly Fiendish" is your fave Damned tune you might find this entertaining, and either way you're a lot more likely to pull out your old Damned albums than spin So, Who's Paranoid? on a regular basis. ~ Mark Deming

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.