Always a moody sounding band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club bring real depth to their grit on this record. Blending Southern rock with a sense of evil and seduction, the band makes an album that makes it feel fun to be bad. While the album could be another hard rock release with little beyond that, they really flesh out their sound for something that mixes the best of U2’s production with an emotion that will scare you.
Tribal drums and chants start the album with a haunting mood on “DFF” as the band’s sweeping sense of atmosphere sets the tone for the album ahead. Their brooding bass lines roar in and out of feedback, never quite breaking the tension while helping keep the sound dark. “Spook” jumps right into the pop grooves the band is known for, keeping their sizzling tones strong in the more ambient tone of the album. They really dive into the overbearing sound as they explode their pop ecstatically without ever feeling out of place.
“King Of Bones” embraces the eerie melodies however, as its bass and guitar hooks are equally menacing. Throwing in more ambitious electronic overtones, they build momentum and wonder without losing the song’s soul or edge. The more subdued blues of “Haunt” feel like the spectres of a past lover or friend have come to life, echoing in the track’s grimy string arrangements. The band bring a real sense of pain and remorse in each chorus however, keeping the track’s slow pace from holding it back.
The cool bass groove of “Echo” blends tones of U2, French Style Furs and even Lou Reed, for a calm but seductive hook. Their instantly inviting vocals make the track a truly ethereal experience that constantly feels like it’s moving to something bigger. Their sense of mood is perhaps spread a little too far on “Ninth Configuration” however, as they quickly find themselves really making listeners wait through sections without as much to offer until the song’s later half. The initial wait is well worth it however, as the track builds and builds into a dense beast of a listen.
“Question of Faith” brings back the more spiritual overtones of the album’s intro, riding a smoky bass hook into fiery choruses. While it trudges in places like many parts of the album, the resulting bridges and memorable chants make it feel essential. While a bit repetitive, “Calling Them All Away” is a strong mood-piece that rises and sinks like a wave. The track’s final bridge, soars with triumphant energy, making the long build towards it all the more rewarding.
There’s an immediate fun to the melodic circles of “Little Thing Gone Wild” as the band constantly pushes the energy while layering in inspiring moment after inspiring moment. The Southern tones to the raw distortion and its booming bass makes you want to move as much is it intimidates you too. “Circus Bazooko” falls into the trance its name would suggest, while bring an Arctic Monkeys’ like suaveness to its delivery.
“Carried From The Start” is where the album really starts to find its slow pace dragging it down in parts, while its work with energetic sounds keeps it from getting truly dull. Each chorus riff feels like a slow-spreading fire, eventually engulfing the listener in its intoxicating glow. “All Rise” feels like it was pulled from a completely different record at times, as its acoustic glory doesn’t always gel with the album’s more dirty and demonic rock. Nevertheless, the band’s ability to weave emotionally charged melodies finds the track powerful and magical.
Words by Owen Maxwell