Thrashing somewhere between Jet, the Foo Fighters, and Pink is former screen-star Juliette Lewis, frontwoman of her 4-year old band, Juliette and The Licks. Over the course of Four on the Floor, the LA band’s 2006 sophomore album, Juliette spins, crawls, screams and kills, bringing with each track a balance of trite eye-rollers and ear-scorching, one-of-a-kind attitude. In “Smash and Grab,” she can get away with “We’re gonna rock it tonight” by snarling “Pretty police lights glowin’ red/Like the blood in your face when I tore up your bed.” Ow.
There are exceptions to this rule. “Purgatory Blues” and “Are You Happy” reveal the vocal ability you’d rather not know about—the one that evokes Fefe Dobson and Michelle Branch, and the one that may land The Licks back with Silvertide, in the annals of forgotten throwback hard-rockers. However, this sugary register juxtaposed to the sickening imagery of “Death of a Whore” is pure genius: “All tattered and blue like a gutted sheep” will give you shivers precisely because it’s sweetly crooned, giving a new stab (no pun intended) to a topic that’s been addressed many times before.
It’s no small feat to recall The Who, The Stones, and AC/DC all in one song, but that’s what J&TL accomplish in “Get Up.” Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters frontman and former drummer of Nirvana, who drummed with The Licks (guitarists Todd Morse and Kemble Walters and bassist Jason Womack) for the recording of Four, seems to have rubbed off on Lewis in “Inside The Cage,” the darkest track on the record. She moans, “I’ll waste, I’ll waste inside the cage,” and you’ve got to wonder why she doesn’t list Hole among her influences. Lewis may walk a fine edge between popstar and disturbed biker, but she struts it with aching sincerity.
Gods, killers, whores, cops, bitches, and Bullshit Kings. According to Juliette and her faithful Licks, it’s a dirty, dirty world. . .but since we’re here, it’s damn worth fighting to survive. - Dorit Finkel