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3 Pill Morning - "Black Tie Love Affair" (CD)

3 Pill Morning - "Black Tie Love Affair" CD cover image

"Black Tie Love Affair" track listing:

1. Rain
2. Skin
3. Nothing's Real
4. Loser
5. I Want That For You
6. So Good To Leave
7. Take Control
8. Daddy's Little Girl
9. Revolution
10. Drive By Lies

Reviewed by on July 5, 2012

"It may be 'pop rock' by orthodox metal standards, but it's damn fine pop rock."

I don’t care how big a headbanger you are; there’s nothing wrong with a strong dose of mainstream singalong fare now and then. “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus,” as they say. While possessing far more in common with their polished radio-rock brethren than with any usual abusers of the double bass pedal, 3 Pill Morning does deliver a biting, energetic crunch that ought to earn at least a nod from listeners on the heavier side of the spectrum. “Black Tie Love Affair” may be “pop rock” by orthodox metal standards, and occasionally falters even by those it sets for itself, but is overall quite well done.

Getting the negatives out of the way, the disc suffers from a weakened center, wherein a handful of slower tracks hamper the overall pacing. “So Good To Leave” may be the only genuine ballad among them, “I Want That For You” and “Take Control” feature some snappy guitar work and memorable choruses (of course), and individually, these are three fine, honest rock songs. However, strung together in such a place, they cause the backbone of the tracklist to sag and fall prey to Radius Rockus Americanus. Not so for the rest, which reaches into the mire with a burly arm and lifts 3 Pill Morning to a respectable level that’s difficult to deny. “Nothing’s Real” thinly veils a well of brooding creativity beneath its simple exterior; first single “Skin” rumbles along to a ‘90s quasi-industrial beat with bludgeoning distortion and teasing electronica touches; and riffy opener “Rain” shines with an injection of the old school. “Loser,” another track to first appear on 2011’s independent release “Take Control,” has been tried and proven as a charting hit, and here takes its rightful and powerful place on the band’s proper debut. “Daddy’s Little Girl” and “Revolution” are solid, if unspectacular compared to the first-side showing, while the best is saved for last. Call it punk or pop punk, but “Drive By Lies” is a closing blaze of glory, alternating thick, chunky guitar-driven verses with a skyrocketing chorus that evokes a surfer’s fleeting sensation of airborne freedom atop a gigantic wave.

Whether you’ll enjoy “Black Tie Love Affair” depends largely on your mindset as a metal fan (which, if you’re reading this, I’m assuming you are). If you’ve sworn a high schooler’s oath to defend the genre’s underground purity from all mainstream enemies, foreign and domestic, then you’ve just wasted a few minutes of your time. But if you appreciate the core essence of no-frills modern rock when written and played with integrity – and admit to having a musical sweet tooth now and again – 3 Pill Morning is not to be dismissed.

Highs: "Rain," "Skin," "Loser," "Drive By Lies," and an overall bounty of hooks with a beefy hard rock production.

Lows: "I Want That For You," "So Good To Leave," and "Take Control" have the pace-disrupting misfortune of being strung together.

Bottom line: Hard rock with enough sugar for the radio, enough edge to bang your head, and enough songwriting integrity to overcome certain structural flaws.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)