I don’t know if there is any more that I can say about Steel Panther that I haven’t already spewed here, here and here. Just like an STD after a drunken one-night stand, the band is back again to wreak havoc upon your world. Lower The Bar, released on March 24, 2017, marks the fourth entry into the Steel Panther full-length lineup. Featuring 10 original songs and one wonderfully cheesy cover (Cheap Trick’s “She’s Tight”), this album is all you can hope for (and more) from the group.
New song styles, some new stage gear and plenty of fresh bodily fluid to spread around; Steel Panther have rebounded considerably with Lower The Bar from their disappointing (in my opinion) 2014 album All You Can Eat. If you could use “matured” and Steel Panther in the same sentence then maybe this is where it’s applicable. The song “Now The Fun Starts” is a big departure from the usual coke snorting riffs like “17 Girls In A Row” and “Death To All But Metal”. A thick bass line runs like a vein through the song and gives it a bit of a soul that I haven’t really heard from them before. Hell, I haven’t ever really noticed much of Lexxi at all so it was a welcome distraction and “Now The Fun Starts” ended up being my favorite song on the album. That song as well as the bluesy, Southern, cock-rock jammer “Walk Of Shame” are most definitely the standout songs for the album and are worthy of inclusion into the already packed live setlist.
The artwork and design of Lower The Bar has firmly established that Steel Panther is leaving the 1980s behind in one regard. Other than the logo and the bright green & blue colors there really isn’t much that harkens back to the Hair Metal era. Modern photographic styling, clean typographic treatments and not going overboard with the extra graphics really helps solidify this record as a piece of modern music packaging. Gone are the flames and animal print of Feel The Steel and in their place are simplistic, subdued textures and images that can relate to anyone’s wild, drunken night out with friends in 2017. The typography actually has a bit of 1920s flare to it, which I dig. It’s definitely not 80s and with the texture on the back of the jacket it feels very modern. The environment of the photography has a bit of a speakeasy-feel to it (with the wooden bar/walls and the dimmed lighting) so I suppose it all makes sense.
I was actually really disappointed that the designer who mocked up the jacket put the band name and album title in the wrong orientation. I believe I only have two albums that are in this format and the other is a Limp Bizkit release. Like two peas in a pod, I guess.
The thin, condensed typeface looks good and the unique track numbering inside the circles is a touch that I enjoyed and it helps take the typography to another level.
The inner gatefold is slammed with lyrics and liner notes. It isn’t the most elegant way of treating this information but the purpose was served. The drink photo on the left side is well executed and the green color scheme is working overtime. The mint leaves on the lyrics page and the green surrounding the bar on opposite page compliment each other well and the whole piece feels very cohesive. Also, the small bit of red with the drink straw relates to the woman in the red dress. Very nice.
The record is pressed on what they called “Neon Green” vinyl but my copy definitely isn’t neon. The truth is that my album falls somewhere between the green and blue that is in the logo on the jacket front. It’s not a bad color, it just isn’t what I call “neon.” The A/B labels are the main artwork with the respective song titles on each side. It’s no extra artwork but it is a decent label. Personally, I’d have rather seen that nice texture from the back of the jacket make another appearance.
I know I will find myself listening to Lower The Bar a lot more often that the previous SP album All You Can Eat. For my ears, this album was a step back in the right direction with better written songs and a bunch of energy. If you liked any bit of Steel Panther before then I highly recommend this album as well. If you are having a shit day and you need to perk up then the songs contained on this album will definitely bring you out of that funk. Give the song below a listen and choose for yourself.
3 Songs To Listen To On Your Walk Of Shame
I Got What You Want
Now The Fun Starts
Walk of Shame