Even a more than two-decade hiatus can’t diminish pure talent and passion. Mike Hudson & The Pagans are proving just that with the release of their first new album in 24 years, Hollywood High. The background of the album is immediately apparent from the album cover itself, where The Pagans have taken the literal root and depicted the entire album’s influence. The cover of model and fashion designer Evita Corby, also known for her marriage to Michael Corby, the frontman of ‘80s British rock band The Babys, served as Hudson’s muse and greatest influence on the album.
The ‘70s punk rock legends hailing from Cleveland have revived their signature punk roots and have come back reinvigorated with blues and jazz undertones. However, the band’s edgy foundation and vocals are still recognizable, and similar to old favorites like “Street Where Nobody Lives.” Their iconic sound greatly stems from Hudson’s mercurial voice; prone to shifting from softer vocals into turbulent shouts as clear indicators of every emotion.
Major themes of unrequited love and love lost stem from Hudson’s personal experience. Yet his lyrical finesse and raw emotion help to convey each line in a universal way, such as in the title-track, “Hollywood High,” as Hudson croons, “She took the darkness from me.” The passion and self-investment is tangible, and brings the darkness he is suffering in to light. Meanwhile, the song “Fame Whore,” also the title of Hudson’s memoir, depicts a melancholy romance that is so simultaneously dismal and alluring, you can’t help but play it over and over again, much like the rest of this standout album.
In A Word: Revitalized