New York Dolls’ two classic mid-’70s albums were as much about zingy, sharp songwriting à la Leiber and Stoller (whose work with The Coasters was an obvious model) as fast-and-loose rock ’n’ roll. So it’s no surprise that their second reunion album—featuring singer David Johansen and guitarist Syl Sylvain, along with three new players—doesn’t fall flat on its made-up face. ’Cause I Sez So isn’t on the same plane as the Dolls’ early work—referenced directly by a curious, slowed-down reggae lope through their self-titled debut’s “Trash”—but it’s no embarrassment, either. “’Cause I Sez So” and “Exorcism Of Despair” crank impressively, grinding through jagged Dolls guitar riffs, but most of the album is mid-tempo and bluesy, crossing the tenderer ’70s styles with Johansen sounding his age and proud. “Better Than You” is an affectionate ode to the singer’s woman that still has a knockabout feel; “My World” evokes The Who’s “Pinball Wizard,” and the lyric of “This Is Ridiculous” just spits it out with good-humored venom. All told, it’s life-affirming.
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