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
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.
1. Took Out a Loan
3. Weapon of Choice
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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