Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Wrong Creatures

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How do Black Rebel Motorcycle Club fit into the indie rock scene after five years away?

Since Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s last record (2013’s Specter at the Feast) a new admiration for modern artists playing classic rock has spread throughout the indie rock loving community. Artists like The War On Drugs and Kurt Vile are now festival headliners,

So it’s a good time for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – who celebrate 20 years as a band this year – to make their return. And Wrong Creatures is a solid way to do so.

Instrumental opener ‘DFF’ is dark and eerie as it builds and builds, seemingly leading us to a massive explosion of big guitars and perhaps a euphoric chorus.

But that release never comes. Instead we get ‘Spook’, a mid-paced rocker that chugs along like the evil twin of the offspring of Bryan and Ryan Adams (in the best possible way).

It’s the first evidence of the pace at which BRMC have chosen to work here. The album doesn’t burst out of the gates, its songs slowly wrap around you, offering treats by way of catchy vocal melodies, agreeable guitar riffs and a clear focus on the atmospheric elements of the music, the space, the sounds and the mood in which these songs operate.

In fact, Wrong Creatures doesn’t really kick into high gear until ‘Little Thing Gone Wild’, 45 minutes into the record.

 

Sure, there are powerful guitar blasts in ‘Ninth Configuration’ and there is a bit of spirit to ‘King Of Bones’, but the overall mood here is one of great restraint.

What Wrong Creatures does have, is a wealth of melodies, moods and sonic textures that are straight out of the classic rock playbook without sound like a mindless facsimile of what’s come before.

The whole thing brightens considerably after the shift in energy prompted by ‘Little Thing…’, as ‘Circus Bazooko’ and ‘Carried From The Start’ offer a little light after what has felt like a bit of a dirge. Then it all ends in a rousing blaze of atmospheric noise with the impassioned ‘All Rise’.

While the re-emergence of classic rock as a legitimate source for quality modern indie rock means Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s relevance may be stronger than ever, Wrong Creatures doesn’t feel like an album that fits the listening habits of a music lover in 2018.

It’s long, meandering and best heard in full. It’s not a record for all moods and occasions, its darkness doesn’t allow that, but it should resonate with plenty of rock fans from across the spectrum of the genre.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club may have hit the peak of their popularity years ago, but Wrong Creatures is among their best work yet.

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