fri 01/03/2024

Album: Reef - Shoot Me Your Ace | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Reef - Shoot Me Your Ace

Album: Reef - Shoot Me Your Ace

Outrageous, unashamed retro heavy rock boosted by Andy Taylor, once of Duran Duran

Cover art as delicately understated as the music

I have a theory about Reef. In the mid-Nineties, when the Somerset outfit appeared, they were reviled by London music journalists. This was mostly because they sounded like a hoary, unreconstructed early-Seventies blues-rock band.

Those same journalists, however, were excitedly touting bands who lamely emulated Kinks-ish Sixties-ness, faux new wave, or a mixture of both (ie Britpop). So, Reef, arguably, just choose the wrong decade at the wrong time.

As an electronic vanguard zealot I sneered at all retro. So, I too disliked Reef. However, cards-on-the-table, decades later my partner digs them, which can mellow a person towards a band. Then I saw them live and they smashed it. That’s when I came up with the above theory. Their new album, though, provides a fresh challenge. Reef now sound like a cross between Guns N’ Roses and a 1980s West Coast hair metal band.

Perhaps this is because new member Andy Taylor, once of Duran Duran, produces the album. The press release talks about Reef Mk. II (Ron Wood’s son Jesse is now also in the band), but it’s long-term frontman Gary Stringer’s outrageous Robert-Plant-in-Led-Zep-multiplied-by-three voice that’s the real Marmite factor, especially his devil-may-care attitude to guttural “well aaaawwwriiight”s and sex-grunts.

Only their sixth studio album in nearly 30 years, when I first heard Shoot Me Your Ace (what a title!), its utter preposterousness ambushed me. Not in a good way. Three listens later, though, I’m finding it entertaining. It’s so beyond-the-pale, in terms of OTT heavy rawk pastiche, that after I picked my jaw off the floor, and gasped, “What the fuck!!!!”, I started revelling in its unselfconscious, denim-hairy, ultra-brash total uncool. And, as much, its sheer un-2022 cheek and energy.

Highlights include the title track, quite possibly a tribute to Motörhead, the tight enormo-riffage of “Everything Far Away”, and the closing Aerosmith lollop of “Strangelove”, but those seeking a distilled shot of the album at its most gob-smacking should turn to the ridiculous machismo posturing of “Wolfman”.

I can’t work out whether the second half of the album is better than the first or whether it just takes that long to bed into its absurdity and old school metal excess. It’s certainly not an album for everyone. If you can’t handle lyrics such as “Rockin’ out until the morning/Nothing’s gonna stop us tonight!”, best stay away. But if you fancy titanium riffs and a rare dose of flagrant, fist-pumping air guitar partying, Shoot Me Your Ace is here waiting.

Below: Watch the video for "Shoot Me Your Ace" by Reef

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