tue 22/05/2018

CD: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Specter at the Feast | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Specter at the Feast

CD: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Specter at the Feast

Californian alt-rock trio plough their well-trodden furrow with admirable pizzazz

BRMC, not to be judged by the cover

There was a common theme to overheard discussions about Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. Whether in cinema doorways, school playgrounds or pubs, the consensus seemed to be that it laid out Tolkien’s tale in a suitably epic fashion and was no less a feat than the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And yet, and yet… because we’d seen it all before – the silhouetted convoy traipsing over pan-shot New Zealand landscapes, the wizards, orcs and elves - because we’d seen it all before the experience was unexpectedly anticlimactic. Thus it is with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s seventh album. It does what it does impeccably but they have covered this ground with panache already.

It is, then, an enjoyable album, one their fans will relish, although it could do with sounding scuzzier, dirtier. Often likened to the Jesus & Mary Chain, this is BRMC approaching the "Sidewalking"-era Chain, rough yet polished. The blues-rock snarl of “Hate the Taste” (great lyric – “I hate the taste but I do it all again”), for instance, has a sleazy groove, but it's Motorhead by way of prime Billy Idol plasticity. Some of the best songs are the heroin-y, sub-Spacemen 3/Spiritualized fare, the soft, drowsy, lo-fi hypno-blues of “Some Kind of Ghost” or the smeared Gregorian gospel slouch of “Sometimes the Light”. They also do, and have always done, a mean line in head-nodding drone-rock, best exemplified here by the pulsing, distorted “Sell It”. The near-nine minute closing “Lose Yourself” is also worthy of mention, a slow-blooming narco-ballad that Primal Scream would be proud of.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club wear rock’n’roll cliché with pride, the leather, the black, the drug references and wearily strived-for enigma, and the lesser songs here are easy to mock as a result. However, while they tread familiar ground, they do so with memorable riffs, and quite enough sonic oomph to retain the attention.

Listen to BRMC's cover of "Let The Day Begin", a huge US hit in 1989 for bassist Robert Levon Been's father's band The Call

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