Get Good Or Stay Bad is the debut full-length album by The Cops, a new band made up of Mike Jaworski and John Randolph from Hello From Waveland, David Weeks of Kinski, and Brian Wall of Raft of Dead Monkeys (he was the kid stoned on hallucinogens running around in underpants and a monkey mask).
Though admittedly influenced by bands like the Clash and the Buzzcocks, unlike a lot of bands these days The Cops do not feel like a guilty pleasure. They have completely gobbled up the spirit of those bands' records made in the late 70s, but also the burned white soul of the artists that inspired them. They do not copy the Stranglers' mean taunts and riffs for "Don't Take It Personal, Dave," but reach deeper into the Kinks' classics that kicked that pub-gone-punk band into being.
Producer Kurt Bloch (Mudhoney, Fastbacks) captured them perfectly in the studio: the menace and aggression in Jaworski's and Randolph's vocals capturing your attention immediately, without ever having to become another instrument, like with hardcore bands. Their voices are melodic but unabashedly masculine, a brawling spit-take that neither seems excessively affected nor tattoo-collecting, Social Distortion, hot rod car wanna-be "cool."
On "Controller" back-up vocals add to the punch of the rant, and in the loping spy-rock of "We Are The Occupants" the band chants against "humans taking up time and space." This is reminiscent of punk bands like Wire, Stiff Little Fingers and the Stranglers forcing their audiences to EXIST, to CREATE on their own. This is not punk cabaret; this is men making muscular rock and roll — "How are you going to live," indeed! The lyrics could use a little broadening, tapping more into their personal lives or specific political examples, avoiding previously used slogans — the topics are right, a few different angles might help.
Regardless, The Cops can claim this sound as their own. The grinding guitar-bass interplay and drum stomping and rolling on "Invisible City" and the utterly funky "New Economy" seem completely organic, as does its inevitable dub break. The guitars never ape the Gang of Four's style, there are no XTC harmonies, no one is fashionably shaking their size five girl-jean ass. Fuck, yeah.