Courtesy of the artist
In "Guilty Girls," Buffalo Tom is a more lyrically mature and equally potent version of the great band that formed 25 years ago.
In "Guilty Girls," Buffalo Tom is a more lyrically mature and equally potent version of the great band that formed 25 years ago. Courtesy of the artist
Song: "Guilty Girls"
Artist: Buffalo Tom
Middle age has long been rock's most arduous rite of passage. Historically, the music industry has happily cannibalized its young or canonized its aged, a worldview premised on two reliable commercial concepts: Die young and leave a beautiful corpse, or die old and leave a lucrative catalog. As to the complications of life lived in middle age — fraught marriages, the terrifying ambivalence of parenthood, the onset fear of mortality — rock 'n' roll has too often had little to say on these matters.
Buffalo Tom, to its credit, has opted to address such unfashionable issues head on. Over the course of the terrific new album Skins, the group's members don't pretend to be young, and they don't attempt to reinvent their fantastic signature sound. Instead, they reconvene as a more lyrically mature and equally potent version of the great band that formed a quarter-century ago.
Over the flypaper-catchy melody of "Guilty Girls," Bill Janovitz's gritty vocals commingle the sadness of one who has seen youth turn brittle with admiration of a longstanding survivor's instinct. "Well, the years are disappearing and your back's against the wall / And the maudlin tears are streaming and you'll make another call." As he sings these words, Janovitz sounds simultaneously loving and castigating.
Obvious bromides of love and anger are the province of youth, but desperate, seeking efforts to grasp the bigger picture characterize rock in middle age. It's less immediate, perhaps, but it can be longer-lasting.