Let’s face it, rock and roll is pretty polite in 2018. Generally, it seems to be the domain of neatly turned out young men with immaculately sculptured beards, who’ve spent hours carefully ripping their jeans – but just a bit, as mum might get annoyed and send them to bed with no dinner. Oh, the horror. This is why we need a grungy, black clad group of thugs with nothing but bad thoughts on their minds and cigarettes in their top pockets. We need the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and we need “Wrong Creatures” to be good.
They still sound like the precocious offspring of the Jesus and Mary Chain, which is reassuring. For this album, they’ve toned down the sonic shenanigans which made “The Effects Of 333” a rather challenging listen. Instead we get everyone’s favourite BRMC elements – noisy guitars, brooding dynamics and a bit of crooning. Fortunately, the tunes are pretty great, too.
Once you get past the brief noisefest of “DFF”, we get into the real deal – “Spook” is a taut rocker hanging on a two-chord riff and all the reverb and delay in the world on the guitars. It’s dark, but accessible. It’s The Cure meets The Cramps. It doesn’t take long to realise that “Wrong Creatures” has been beautifully produced and engineered and there are some great, “test your stereo” moments here. The fuzzed-out guitars sound glorious, especially on “Echo” where the rhythm section actually grooves a little, letting the arrangement breathe. A great example of less-is-more.
“Haunt” is classic BRMC – all dreamy guitars and Lee Hazelwood delivery. In fact, there’s not a clunker on the whole record, for example “Ninth Configuration” manages to sound like an Echo and The Bunnymen single played at 33 1/3 and still be a great tune. The best track on the album, in fact. The organ sound on “Carried From the Start” may be a little jarring, but it’s a pretty insignificant complaint, really. It’s dark despair you can have fun wallowing in.
It’s not easy being a BRMC fan as they’ve thrown their audience a fair few curveballs – from acoustic albums to the static noise, stoner drone sludge of “The Effects of 333”, but for “Wrong Creatures”, they’re back on safe territory. The tempos are slow and the gothic-ometer can’t handle the angst, but there’s nothing here that will get anyone scratching their heads or hitting the “pause” button too often. It sounds like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, only more so. More intense. Darker. Better.
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Most bands aren’t dangerous anymore and most of them dress as if they’re going to their niece’s christening. All the sharp edges have been neatly removed, along with most of the bits that make them interesting. It seems that BRMC have scooped them all up, grafted them on and made “Wrong Creatures”. And we should be grateful.
“Wrong Creatures” is available now via Vagrant Records
The track listing is as follows…
King of Bones
Question of Faith
Calling Them All Away
Little Thing Gone Wild
Carried from the Start