The Bomb Squad II – The Bomb Squad
On their second disc, Bomb Squad II, Jen Durkin and the Bomb Squad use just about every trick in the funk handbook and come out with a textbook funk rock album. The band has the chops, and Durkin’s got the pipes, but their reliance on funk party formulae dry out any creative juices and leaves the album tasting like low-fat soul food.
Things start out rough on "Get em Hot," whose jock rock stomp ‘n’ clap has been overdone since it started showing up in sports arenas and late night "Best of" commercials twenty years ago. The generic drum beat is matched by the lyrics. It’s hard to swallow lines like "We can do it on the east side / We can do it on the west side / We can do it with our hands tied / We can give it to ‘em worldwide" without a dose of skepticism. On "Starbanger," Durkin actually calls herself a "hustler" and commands us, "Don’t tell me it ain’t gangsta enough," as she applies the rap game’s over-the-top egotism to herself and her funk posse.
There are a few bright spots: "Maybe" throws a contagious pop melody over the Squad’s reggae beat as Durkin pines apprehensively in mid-tempo about a love-inspired leap of faith. The slow, sexy groove of "NYC Song" captures the late night, neon-lit vibe of Manhattan at midnight, and the big horn explosions and infectious cowbell beat of "Rip It Up" make up for any formulaic lyrics. The hopeful message and catchy hooks of "Rise" suggest that Durkin and Co. might even graduate to the next level.
Bomb Squad II will probably get a party of drunken revelers bouncing in a live setting, but take away the drugs, alcohol, sweaty bodies and sexual tension of a club crowd, and It may elicit an early exit from the CD player. The Bomb Squad have more hooks and chops than a meat factory, but until they can make the final step from frat party funk-for-hire to full-on pros, they’ll be stuck on the assembly line pumping out generic pap.