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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Baby 81
RCA Records

I don't believe that there is any greater thing in life than seeing a really good band mature and grow into a truly great band. On their newest release Baby 81, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club seems to have melded their original post-punk sound neatly with their more recent experimental noisy Americana, successfully creating a sound that draws from tradition but finally becomes their very own.

The album begins with the crying fuzz of "Took Out A Loan", with its guitars that could have been lifted from The Stone Roses' most bluesy recordings. This song is enough to draw the soul into the music entirely, leaving no space for retreat from the greatness that follows. "Berlin" is another rocker that makes way for the acoustically-led psychedelic heavy folk of "Weapon Of Choice", a track that leads the ear in the same direction as most of the incredible Howl did, only with a bit more energy. As catchy as the song is on its own, being a perfect single, I also find myself singing in my head "Stop the rock, can't stop the rock… stop the rock, can't stop the rock". Robert channels the spirit of The Beatles on the soulful ballad "Window" before the band gets back to where it once belonged on the classic BRMC slow-rocker "Cold Wind". The band really hits it's groove on the stomping "It's Not What You Wanted", a totally refined version of their earlier pop works that grabs the listener by the throat and twists its choking beauty deeply into the soul. The song is easy to listen to, with brisk acoustic guitar backing the cool electric lines, fuzzy bass, and brilliantly played and recorded drums. This song really shines, and at 3 minutes 43 seconds it would be my vote for follow-up single. The Americana of Howl creeps back out on the dirgey "666 Conducer", recalling the softer moments of The Jesus And Mary Chain in a tangential way. The song has a drive and rhythm that worms its way into the brain and refuses to be surrendered. "All You Do Is Talk" is a droning psych-gospel track, simply Peter's voice and organ before the drums and guitars kick in lightly with a precision and grace unmatched by their contemporaries. This song will easily lull the soul into a place of being much like many of Robert's father Michael Been's songs do… in fact, the song has a sound very reminiscent of The Call's masterworks.

"Lien On Your Dreams" is perhaps the finest example of the blending of the various styles that BRMC has come to possess. A definite JAMC vibe blends a bouncing rhythm into a song that has more than slight tints of Mike Roe and the 77's. It is a bluesy track that relies on brilliant lyrics presented with a sense of style borrowed from Oasis that sticks in the head and works its way deeply into the soul… it just breathes life and transcends the modern music world. The band dirties things up again on the weirdly quick-stepped "Need Some Air" before kicking back into a Beatle-esque sound on "Killing The Light". "American X" is anthemic and huge like the finest moments of The Alarm, simply glowing with a sense of purpose and purity. The mostly acoustic "Am I Only" closes out the record with a soft feel, but is laced with the same solid sense of purpose and identity that makes BRMC stand out so vividly from the crowd.

It is very satisfying to see a band that I've believed in so strongly for so many years hit their stride with such an amazingly strong release. There's not a clunker in the bunch, and you can be darn sure that this band has more great things to come. I'm truly proud of them as musicians and writers and this is sure to be one of the greatest records of 2007, if not the decade.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. Took Out a Loan
2. Berlin
3. Weapon of Choice
4. Window
5. Cold Wind
6. It's Not What You Wanted
7. 666 Conducer
8. All You Do is Talk
9. Lien on Your Dreams
10. Need Some Air
11. Killing the Light
12. American X
13. Am I Only

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