Spin - p.118
"[T]en songs of solid, melodic, punk-inflected rock..." - Grade: B
Social Distortion: Mike Ness, John Maurer, Jonny Wickersahm, Charlie Quintana.
Audio Mixers: Cameron Webb; Mike Ness.
Photographers: Christine Marie ; Chapman Baehler.
A major force in West Coast punk since the early 1980s, Social Distortion became the longest-lasting of their peers, with perhaps only Bad Religion for company. Through a daunting history of ups and downs, drug problems, personnel shifts, and worse, the band soldiered on fearlessly, never sacrificing the righteous fury of their sound. Following a layoff of eight years (during which time singer Mike Ness pursued a solo career), SEX, LOVE AND ROCK 'N' ROLL was the group's first foray into the studio since the death of founding guitarist Dennis Danell in 2000.
With longtime bassist John Maurer and the revitalizing power of a new guitarist and drummer, Social Distortion maintains the lean, propulsive punk attack that made them famous. While the group's trademark sound is a Ramones-meet-Johnny Cash punk/country amalgam, the twangier leanings are largely left behind here in favor of a more straightforward--still characteristically unrelenting--rock & roll approach. Beyond that, the biggest new development is the pop quotient. While SD was never a stranger to hooks or melody, a couple of tracks here could easily be placed into the repertoire of any number of pop performers and given a convincing high-gloss arrangement. Regardless, the band plays even the poppiest material hard, fast, and loud, as per their pure punk roots, and Ness still concentrates on his perennial lyrical subjects--hard times and the power of rock & roll to see people through their trials and tribulations. It sure seems to have worked for him.