J Boozer doesn't set the bar too high on his debut album, Pissing Life Away: He opens the CD with the sound of prolonged urination (which is thematically as appropriate, as the Darkness opening its second album with the sounds of cocaine being snorted). The lyrics on Away don't exactly reach for the stars either, what with their tales of drinking, smoking and fucking. In fact, it would be easy to write off Boozer and his "world's drunkest band" shtick as a gimmick easy, that is, if the music wasn't so good. These are stupid songs played very well, and Boozer has a pop-smith's ear; the barroom piano flourishes on "Heather" (a song about a hot bartender) could have been lifted from the Kinks' Muswell Hillbillies, and his layers of self-harmonies are simple but spot-on.
In live shows over the past few months, Boozer has made a name for himself by being a true one-man band, playing guitar and singing while operating a kick-drum and a hi-hat with his feet. In the studio he fleshes out the parts a bit with additional percussion guitar leads (especially the deft picking on "F-Luv F-Erin"), but the album retains the simplicity of his live show. And it's clear that Boozer isn't trying to write a perfect pop song; like his gigs, Away is trying to get you drunk, high and laid. The album won't accomplish any of those objectives, and the perilous jump from great live act to great studio band may prove elusive for a guy whose act is so dependent on both his and his audience's alcohol consumption. Christian Schaeffer