Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Wrong Creatures

BRMC aren’t a band who like to make it easy for themselves, they seem like the kind of band who throw their entire existence into making music and giving it their all at every live gig, as this writer witnessed a few years ago in Manchester, where they played for almost 3 hours! Yep, BRMC play hard. All well and good for a while, however, sometimes real life catches up and rears its ugly head, as BRMC discovered when drummer Leah Shapiro was diagnosed with a rare brain condition affecting mobility and balance. Her bandmates, guitarist Peter Hayes and bassist Robert Levon Been plus the BRMC community responded with fund raising to pay for her medical bills, now fully recovered and back with their first studio album in five years; their eighth album fInds the band in a more contemplative mood.

Opening with the hauntingly atmospheric ‘DFF’, it’s a dark yet beautiful curtain raiser which commences proceedings. Then it’s swiftly into tracks like ‘Spook’ and ‘King Of Bones’ which are still wrapped in the guitar drenched tones which helped to establish them in the first place. Produced by Nick Launay, who’s also produced Nick Cave and Arcade Fire, it’s a much darker album than any of BRMC’s previous works. ‘Haunt’ is one of the best examples of the more spacious sounds BRMC have developed, with its rumbling gentle guitar undercurrents and an equally gentle woozy guitar solo which recalls Neil Young, Nick Cave and The Tindersticks, it’s an epic beast of a song. Similar spacious sounds can be found on ‘Echo’, and at the start of ‘Ninth Configuration’ before it morphs into heavier territory, whilst holding on for dear life to some fine melodies and chord progressions as it soars into the anthemic stratosphere. ‘Question Of Faith’ and ‘Calling Them All Away’ have more psychedelic guitar lines weaving in and out with what sounds like sitars adding to the melting pot.

BRMC have always been kings of the slow gradual ascent of a tune, from nothing but a solo guitar or piano line into a fully fleshed gigantic band sound, and it’s a trick they put to good use on several of the songs on Wrong Creatures. That’s not to say they’ve abandoned their in yer face rock n roll side either, as ‘Little Thing Gone Wild’ demonstrates. Closing with the slow steady build of guitars and feedback of ‘All Rise’, BRMC are back with a guitar drenched bang, and a triumphantly dark album of greatness.

Release Date 12th January 2018 (Vagrant Records)

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From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.