EMI - 2001 – 58 minutes

"I know it's hard to see, there's a little more to me," sighs FLC boss Huey on the New Yorkers' fourth album. Could this be a guilty conscience? Have the all-wisecracking, all-partying trio realised that the listener deserves a little more than keg and cookout anthems? Not quite, but jumping between the singalongs they made their name with (Swashbucklin' In Brooklyn) and deeper, more thoughtful numbers (My Sin), 'Loco' suggests that this is a band at a crossroads.

But before you go crediting them with growing up and escaping the musical equivalent of juvenile hall, you should note that one third of the album is close to unlistenable in its crassness. Where The Bums Go is a rehearsal reheat of 80s hardcore, The Biz moves disastrously from bewitching female vocals to 'how not to rap' buffoonery and the speeded up country of Dickholder should see the boys get more than they bargained for on their next trip down south. The less said about their cover of Eric B and Rakim's Microphone Fiend the better.

That's the very bad news, the good is that they turn things around on the likes of Half A Block, Underground and She's My Friend, showing they understand that a torch song isn't about setting fire to something. While Huey's vocals are at best limited and at worst one dimensional, his turn as the worn out balladeer is compelling, with the lyrics suggesting that the last three years haven't been all drinks and dames. There's even a moody instrumental, There Was A Time, which mopes on a delicate keyboard motif and could hold its own in the best of downbeat company.

Stay in for a few months, dim the lights, buy some Afghan Whigs albums and stop watching Sopranos re-runs. It mightn't do much for your love life or street cred, but you'll have a good record to show for it. And yes, Huey, we are talking to you.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Where The Bums Go - Loco - The Biz - Run Daddy - Half A Block - Swashbucklin' In Brooklyn - Bump - Microphone Fiend - My Sin - Underground - She's My Friend - There Was A Time - Dickholder - Little Song