Review: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club go back-to-basics with latest LP

Levon
Robert Levon Been of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Wrong Creatures

****

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s undimmed faith in the primary of leather jackets, dark mirror shades and unreconstructed rock and roll has marked them as one of pop’s most enduring champions of old school values.

It’s 17 years since the San Francisco group emerged, with an already retro Jesus and Mary Chain-meets-Marlon Brando biker gang sensibility.

But they double down on that perspective with a snarl and a swagger on back-to-basics latest LP, produced by Arcade Fire and Nick Cave collaborator Nick Launay.

His great insight is that the BRMC’s formula doesn’t require much in the way of reinvention. This is a band happy in its skin and wisely he lets them get on with it.

The tinkering is generally at the margins: opener ‘DFF’ is characterised by a spectral goth zing while ‘King Of Bones’ is a slow builder that culminates in a riotous howl of vintage venting (it’s angry even if, BRMC as ever, sound completely laconic).

BRMC are often accused to troweled-on angst. However the darkness is more than affectation. In 2010 singer Robert Been lost his father — also the group’s long-running producer and engineer.

And just three years ago drummer Leah Shapiro developed a potentially lethal brain tumour (the cost of treatment was so prohibitive fans ran a crowdfunding campaign to help with the medical bills).

Here, their chic bleakness is at its most compelling on single ‘Little Thing Gone Wild’ — a high-kicking rumbler that suggests Pixies and Velvet Underground having an after-school scrap.

After two decades of endless reconfiguration of the same blueprint, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club remain as impressively devoted as ever to their founding principles.

And that makes Wrong Creatures not only a record remarkably at ease with itself — but also perhaps their most definitive yet.


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