Ever since the release of the 1972 Nuggets there have been bands like the Creeps, and most likely there always will be. The Swedish retro act aims squarely at mid-’60s garage rock, aping the bands that aped the yardbirds, but thanks to inspired playing and inventive arrangements, they succeed in adding to the tradition rather than just running in place. Recorded with period-appropriate atmosphere (i.e. a thick, dirty echo), the Creeps bang out nine originals that channel the Animals and Them, delivered with power and precision. “Down at the Nightclub” leads off Enjoy the Creeps with a stiff swing and a booze-positive philosophy, then breaks down with a jazzy piano coda. Other highlights include the lascivious “Hi, Hi, Pretty Girl,” the Farfisa-driven instrumental “Rattlesnake Shake,” and the frantic drum rolls and fuzz solo on “Ain’t No Square.” A medley of Sonics covers (“Maintaining My Cool” and “I’m A Rolling Stone”) is reverent and energetic, but won’t change anyone’s mind about the wild, rambunctious Northwest originals. In fact, the only thing missing on Enjoy the Creeps is a sense of true abandon, that apocalyptic spark that makes the most primitive, boneheaded garage bands like the Count Five or the Seeds so eternal.
The Creeps are musicians, not punks, and while there’s no lack of get-down vitality to their sound, they won’t take the listener anywhere except the dancefloor. However, their pugnacious take of the obscure, middle-finger anthem “City of People” seethes with defiance (“Baby don’t you mess with me/Cuz you know you could never bring me down/Hey Hey Hey!”), equaling the sneer of the original 1966 Illutions single, and nearly matching Fireworks’ vicious 1995 rewrite as “City of Assholes.” Garage rock revivalists will find lots to move to on Enjoy the Creeps, but the band didn’t stay tied down to their nostalgic muse for long. The Creeps modified their sound in later years, taking on more modern elements with soul/funk textures that earned them a Swedish Grammy, and a big hit in their homeland with “Ooh, I Like It” in 1990. [Fred Beldin]