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The Dirtbombs, ‘We Have You Surrounded’ (In The Red)

Jon Young // April 15, 2008

A fixture on the Detroit scene since the mid-’80s, Mick Collins has often juggled multiple bands at once, compiling a résumé that testifies to a permanently fractured attention span. The Dirtbombs, his most visible project, underscore Collins’ lack of interest in sustaining a consistent, marketable identity.

Since releasing their first album a decade ago, they have jumped from style to style, from garage rock to vintage R&B. After seeing his friends in the White Stripes attract larger audiences without losing artistic credibility, however, Collins seems more comfortable with the concept of getting paid. You can hear Dirtbombs songs in Wal-Mart and GM ads, as well as in the film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

And We Have You Surrounded is a terrific, accessible hard-rock album deserving of more than cult attention. The usual Dirtbombs configuration of two drummers and two bassists is put to brilliant use, spawning aggressively funky grooves that suggest a Motown rhythm section gone punk, while the charismatic Collins’ emphatic testimonials evoke powerful visions of a society in rapid, irrevocable decay. From “Leopardman at C&A,” with lyrics by gloomy graphic novelist Alan Moore (V for Vendetta), to “It’s Not Fun Until They See You Cry,” Collins has fashioned the perfect backdrop for the end of the world. George Romero, here’s the score for your next zombie flick.