Clutch's latest opus is simply another snapshot of the band's stunning evolution. Rather aptly, it opens with the catchy, upbeat 'You Can't Stop The Progress' which segues almost immediately into the superb, tongue-in-cheek 'Power Player' (sample lyric: "You can always tell the terrorist by his cologne and the watch on his wrist"). The rest of the album is characterised by a distinctly bluesy feel - one that was hinted at on previous LP Robot Hive/Exodus - but as always, it's by no means a straightforward take on the genre, with Neil Fallon's lyrics in particular adding that unique and bizarre twist to proceedings. "Has your child completed his or her suspicious activity booklet? Don't let this summer go to waste" he implores on the quite brilliantly-titled 'Mr Shiny Cadillackness'.
With 'Evil' Joe Barresi on production duties, the album's sound is both warm and wonderfully rich. Eric Oblander of long-time friends/tour buddies Five Horse Johnson makes a welcome appearance or two on harmonica, with the obvious highlight being 'Electric Worry' - a foot-stomping, old-school blues rock classic. Other highlights include 'When Vegans Attack' and 'Opossum Minister', both of which exhibit Clutch's trademark looseness. There has always been a certain fluidity to Clutch's music - a natural propensity to groove - and yet Beale Street is arguably the band's most cohesive album to date. Indeed, it's difficult to find fault with this record at all and I for one will be down the front, shakin' my ass to these tunes next time the boys are in town. Make sure you are too.