Six years after it was released, "Retro World," from the Black Halos' self-titled debut, remains rock's most relevant self-critique. In it, grubby-voiced Billy Hopeless croaks, "Here it comes, baby, there it goes/It's getting harder to shoot my load/Nothing's really dangerous, just a retro world." Here was an anti-nostalgia anthem, rendered in perfect shades of 1977 -- talk about serious irony.
Nothing on Alive Without Control, the Vancouver quintet's third album, is quite as astute as "Retro World," but the song collection makes its case for unwavering nostalgia. By now, the band's Dead Boys/Heartbreakers glam-punk has been raked through the hipster mill and even appropriated by Juliette Lewis, but few have done it so indelibly. The guitars are meaty and infectious, the tunes straightforward, with a granite rhythm section, and, aside from a pounded piano in the raving title track, a familiar palette. The lowlife paean "Darkest Corners" is the best lyric, but "Unchanged" is the most apt: "They go through phases, like we go through cocktail glasses/The more they change it, the more I feel the same about it."