If you’re from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about the rock band The Little Wretches. Co-founder, lead singer and lyricist Robert Wagner’s visionary rock group has had its fair share of personnel changes, but Wagner’s outlook and lyricism can’t be overlooked. The band’s 10th full album release, Undesirables and Anarchists is collection of new songs and re-recorded hits. Make no mistake, this album lives up to the hype and makes you want to rip up the rules and join the rock and roll fight The Little Wrenches have waged since the 80s.
THE LITTLE WRETCHES: https://www.littlewretches.com/
Regardless of when they were recorded – or written – Wagner’s inventive lyrics stand the test of time. They bode well for 2020, especially the tracks “Silence (Has Made A Liar Out Of Me)”, “I Rather Would Go,” the stunner “Who Is America” and finally, “Running (Was The Only Thing To Do”). Perhaps a political statement, or not, the Wagner’s lyrics tend to question norms, cheer for the isolated and give hope to the folks that are always running from something in their life (which speaks to a lot of listeners, do doubt).
In “Silence (Has Made A Liar Out Of Me)”, Wagner sings harsh, harsh words come easily to me. Underneath his front man voice is a lush music bed. The guitar ding-ding-ding’s along, as the steady drip of bass, drums and piano drops. The music bed reminded me slightly of something from late 90s rockers, Too Much Joy. Then, in “I Rather Would Go”, Wagner jumps out faster. He also divulges more about his viewpoints and experiences (perhaps). When you grow up by the train tracks, you learn how to hop a freight, and if you grow up by the slag dumps, you learn how to tap a keg, but if you grow up in the shadows, you learn how to force a smile, he spills. We all wear masks, to a certain degree, and I think growing up you adjust based on peer pressure and more. You survive. I think that’s the theme of this song.
“Who Is America” mentions the dirt and the grime of the working American. This song transports the listener into a world of Wagner’s own devices. It’s also a reflection that we don’t necessarily want to admit. Once again the sound is ripe with rock and roll, and a steady guitar stream. Wagner and his guitar are a sweet duo, but there is a full band behind him.
One of the surprise hits and different voices, is the last track “Running (Was The Only Thing To Do)”. Supposedly written about band member Rosa Colucci (Rosa Rocks) and her experience as a runaway. Wagner captures the melancholy, but he also captures hope. Colucci sings until my hiding place slowly became my tomb had me down so long I started to assume, that I would never see the light of day. I felt a bar vibe in this song, but frankly I could also envision it being sung as the encore as the sun goes down on an outdoor stage. This song cleansed and I can’t imagine it not being on this album. It was hauntingly beautiful and brave to be featured last. It definitely leaves the listener fulfilled.
by Mindy McCall, posted by Sebastian Cole