Sensation Junkies

Sensation Junkies

Once for the Money

Sarathan Records

The Sensation Junkies are an alternative rock band with enough indie rock influence to make it difficult to label them an alternative rock band. Coming out of the Alternative Mecca of Seattle, the group features a foundation of alternative-style guitars and vocals but often tries to do more with their songs. A little blues here, a little yodeling there, and it becomes hard to categorize these guys. But if there are any constants, they must be the vocals of Christopher Blue and the despair apparent in every song.

Blue’s voice sets the tone for Once for the Money’s collection of painful songs. The aptly named Blue trudges through his songs without any hint of content or satisfaction with the world, often taking shots at the idea of religious order. “Maybe Jesus H. Christ will come and take your hurt away,” he says in opener “Ollala.” In the closer “Basta!” Blue refers to “foolish men whose faith has become dangerous” and “empirical aspirations of godliness.”

Blue’s inner demons are evident throughout the album. This is a man that would fight with God if he was completely sure he existed. He suffers through songs he named “Painkiller,” “Crisis Addict,” “Dirty Rag” and “Blown Apart.” He’s tormented and exhausted, and his songs come out negative and cynical. There is nothing uplifting about the up-beat tunes “Never Saw it Coming” and “Basta!”

While having nothing but criticism for the world, Blue offers powerful, vivid lyrics concerning his surroundings. Some hit the mark like the line “these self-inflicted catastrophes are bringing out the ugliest in you and me” in “Basta!” Others fall flat like the simile “My misery spreads like mayonnaise all over the one I love” in “Crisis Addict.” I’m not even sure what he’s saying, but it’s disgusting no matter what it’s supposed to mean. Unfortunately there are more misses than hits throughout the songs.

Blue goes political on more than one occasion, but most memorably in “Canine.” Toward the end of “Canine” (which starts with the line “All the canine are made toothless”) the Sensation Junkies repeat what sounds like George W. Bush saying “America.” At this point Blue laments his conception of the condition and future of the country. He wails to his audience, “Is that a mushroom cloud in your future? … All the wrong choices have been made for you.”

The world of the Sensation Junkies is dark and painful. Even the song “Love is the Reason” ends on a down note with the line “Love has wrecked me.” Blue’s despair is inescapable. Consequently, it’s a chore to listen to unless you want to wallow in your misery, something which of course has its place and time.

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