Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat The Devil's Tattoo
Traditionally there have been two sides to San Fransisco's Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. On one hand there is the neo-shoegazers, who love to drench their songs in reverb, feedback, and fuzz bass. On the other side we've seen a band that has an affinity for blues-based garage rock. On the new album Beat the Devil's Tattoo we finally see those two divergent sides come together.
From the bluesy side we get tracks like "River Styx" and the title track. They tend to be fairly straightforward, with a little more feedback than we heard on Howl, without straying too far afield. The stripped down "Sweet Feeling" and the mournful "The Toll" are probably the standouts in this category.
The wall-of-sound aspect of BRMC manifests itself on the surprisingly slick "Bad Blood". Going even further back in their style, the band give us "Evol", possibly the closest thing to a Jesus & Mary Chain impression they've given us since their debut album.
The two traditions of the band do converge on a handful of occasions. When that happens the results are mixed. On "Conscience Killer" and "Mama Taught Me Better", we get strong garage rock packed with power, yet gripping tight to its soulfulness. Throw in some of the most throat-wrenching vocals the band has ever done and we get the triumphant "Aya".
It's not always a glorious mix however. A song like "War Machine" quickly becomes a jumbled mess of genres, each sloppily competing for dominance. The result is not pleasant.
The constantly shifting styles and inconsistent results makes Beat the Devil's Tattoo a frustrating album. It can be oh so good on one track and the very next it has to strive to be mediocre. With the positive tending to outweigh the negative though, the record warrants more than a few listens from fans.
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