Peter Frampton


It's a humid night in suburban Chicago. A 42-year-old dental assistant is drinking her fourth Zima at a block party. She bobs her head as the synthesized guitars from Peter Frampton's new album, Now, blare out of a parked Cutlass. With a scan of the crowd, she spots a man with perfectly conditioned hair, a trimmed mustache, and muscles bulging out of his shirt sleeves. Eyes meet. Eyelashes bat. Lust is in the air. And so is a lot of sucky music. If you're a human with a tight perm, elastic-waist jeans, and a mouthful of coleslaw, then it might not suck as bad -- it does have blaring guitars, driving rhythms, and backup singers shouting, "Hey, hey, hey" -- but to most of us, it couldn't suck worse.

This is the same Peter Frampton who made his guitar talk on Frampton Comes Alive; the same man who had loose, spaced-out solos all over his work. This guy was radical. On Now, he trades in his sound for an Eric Clapton impression and some clichéd lyrics that feel like they were written by a Norwegian boy and translated into English over a ham radio.

The album kicks off with "Verge of a Thing," a song intended to be a crunchy, Stone Temple Pilots­esque hit. This '90s alternarock attempt showcases Mr. Frampy (as we will now call him) pronouncing the word "adrenaline" like "adrenaleeeeeeeeeeene." But wait, it gets much worse. Track 7 is titled "I'm Back." On it Mr. Frampy sings, "I'm back/ Like Schwarzenegger in Terminator/ I'm back like a boomerang and a bungee cord."

Despite its musical horror, Now will be blasting out of Chevy Cavalier speakers at adult block parties all across America. Macaroni salad will become room temperature to it. Drunken dental hygienists will have sex to it. Toes will tap. Fingers will snap. Then, after a long night of Mr. Frampy and wine coolers, everyone will wake up on the floor of his neighbor's laundry room with his pants down and mayonnaise smeared across his thighs. Skip the messy cleanup. Avoid Now.

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