Sequencing a rock and roll album in which five of the eleven tracks are ballads is an unenviable task for most groups. When you’re Tuckerton, New Jersey band The Everymen, however, and some of your finest songs happen to be album-worthy slow jams, you find a way to make it work. On their latest full-length album, These Mad Dogs Need Heroes, frontman Mike V and company manage to balance their brand of all-in, upbeat, sax-infused American retro rock and sentimental tear-jerkers by bundling three power ballads in the record’s first half, including a back-to-back segued pair titled “Chum Pt. 1” and “Chum Pt. 2”.
These Mad Dogs Need Heroes opens with “Co-Dependent’s Day”, a hard-hitting, rollicking number complete with a vintage-sounding saxophone and male backing vocals effectively enhancing singer Catherine Herrick’s powerful voice. Not to be outdone, Mike V grabs the mic for “No One Seems To Matter To Me”. With a voice that’s equal parts Greg Dulli and Elvis Costello, Mike rips through impassioned lyrics about unrequited longing as Beach Boys style “oohs” frame his woeful words at the song’s beginning, middle and end. The aforementioned “Chum Pt. 1” and its sequel follow. Both of these are lovingly written and effectively sung by Herrick.
All six members of The Everymen get an opportunity to shine on These Mad Dogs Need Heroes. While the sax finds its way into the majority of songs, its appearance never feels inappropriate or heavy-handed. Keys are slid subtly into most of the mixes, stepping only occasionally into the spotlight for brief moments when warranted. Guitar solos are well-placed throughout, and the rhythm section does a great job leading the charge during songs with rapidly shifting parts like “Bridge And Tunnel Of Love”.
The album is concluded with a pair of ballads sung by Mike V. The first, “My Pretty Green Eyed Carolina Girl”, is a tender love song made for slow dancing couples. The record’s title track serves as These Mad Dogs Need Heroes’ finale, and it’s a gentle lullaby that has Mike, accompanied only by an electric piano, warning a younger man of the world’s pitfalls and the dangers of following your dreams. While a fine conclusion musically, the song’s contemplative lyrics will definitely leave an attentive listener feeling melancholic.
Individually, the songs on These Mad Dogs Need Heroes are all inarguably well-crafted and enjoyable. When ingested as a collection, however, the clustering of ballads may be trying for some. These Mad Dogs Need Heroes may not be the best place to start for the uninitiated, but fans of The Everymen, as well as patient newcomers, will rightfully find a lot to love here.