With a rock sound like no other, Canadian born Texas based duo Black Pistol Fire have shot out their brand-new album ‘Look Alive’ into the sound space of 2021 three years after ‘Deadbeat Graffiti’ which featured their number one single ‘Lost Cause’. A unique sound that could be described as an amalgamation of Blues Rock and Garage Punk, lead vocalist/guitarist Kevin McKeown and drummer/bass synth player Eric Owen have traded the pistol for a double barrel shotgun as the sound spread for this album pierces the flesh of different genres that some would not associate with the Rock counterpart.
Opening with their title track, ‘Look Alive’ sounds like the music to a 50 Shades of Gray teaser trailer as a low piano synth starts the track off before the chorus brings that distorted blues riff and loud drums accompanied with another wavy synth sound that sits perfectly in-between the two to bring that distinctive sound BPF are so well known for. McKeown questions “Girl, just let me know now. How far will you go now?” as if he’s trying to figure out if the person in question is with him on this mission that the song sets a scene for. A pulsating sensation comes through the speakers as hard blues rock is fused with the quirky synthesizers making for a great introductory as B.P.F return to the firing range with their distinguishable sound with some new elements thrown into the mix.
Followed up by two fast paced head bangers ‘Pick Your Poison’ and ‘Holdin Up’; McKeown has set the guitars to attack as Owen ignites the fuse of his explosive drums. The strobes are flashing, the people are moving, these are the type of ‘Get Up and Go’ songs to lose your inhibitions to. The energy exerted by B.P.F can be felt as it is transferred to the listeners. There is no sitting still whilst listening to these songs. You have to move, you have to dance, you have to run. Whatever it may be, you need to do something with the energy that has been bestowed upon you from these guys. And for just a few seconds, you might stand still as the bridge comes in through a megaphone like effect “Minute by minute. Able and willing. All the while I keep my feelings omitted”. This is the call to arms that gives you those few seconds to catch your breath before it all kicks off again.
The vibe flips on its head as ‘Never Enough’ brings the classic modern rock sound which can be compared to popular British Bands like ‘Arctic Monkeys’ and ‘Foals’. It’s very evident in the chorus as the guitar riff follows the lyrics “Sleep through the night. Keep this in mind. Wake up to find” the high notes on the guitar are following suit perfectly making for a sweet fusion as the drums lay the foundation for it all to work together so well.
Things get interesting with ‘Wildfire’ as it brings an alternative R&B like sound with a dance feel that could be played in a nightclub without people knowing that a Rock band has snuck its way onto the playlist. Owen gets creative with his drums sounds and time signatures adding in fills that sound like gunshots and intrinsic High-hat beats that really makes it stand out from all the other songs. Ending with a solo like none of the others on the album, this is definitely one to watch out for as there is serious potential for this to slip into the pop charts.
Inspired by the Wildfires in California in 2018, ‘Black Halo’ was the second single released for the album and McKeown introduces the Banjolele to the B.P.F arsenal for this song. Bringing back that classic BPF sound, this is one fans will be content with as it contains the big chorus, eccentric synths, gritty guitars and loud drums that make B.P.F who they are. “Got my shadow and a black halo” This line can be seen as a representation of the spurious darkening of the California sky that has now been turned to black from the thick smoke rising into the atmosphere covering what was once a bright and beautiful view. A very well-crafted lyric to give a perspective of what the victims of the Wildfires went through with an optimistic outlook
‘Temper Temper’ and ‘Level’ are two powerhouse songs that bring back high tempos, louder than life choruses, monster solos and the feeling of sticking it back in the face of someone who has wronged you one too many times. McKeown gives a warning bite “Don’t get too close ’cause I’m ready to blow. I come for blood and my blood runs cold” as the person of influence behind the song pushes him towards breaking point but by the time you get to ‘Level’ it’s too late as he snaps back with strong, palm-muted, down strum power chords and bellows “Oh, no, here we go again. Don’t act like you couldn’t give a good goddamn”. The anger can really be felt here as if it is your own. Fist clenched; muscles tensed this song will bring any listener out of a relaxed state.
A little bit of love, a little bit of time and a little bit of swing? The albums lyrics set a theme of dysfunctional relationships and the traumatic wounds that come with them but ‘Always on my mind’ builds the bridge to healing “With a little bit love and a little bit time
To get my heart right” McKeown shouts pushing past the pain to a new state of mind using the trauma as a learning experience and as an influence to produce the monster of an album that is ‘Look Alive’ and with a fast and loud chorus, this is definitely one to twirl your partner to on the dancefloor