Most helpful positive review
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Sounds pretty cool to be a werewolf...
on 22 April 2002
Well now, here's a thing. The allegedly 'super-cool' New York rock threesome have returned with what sounds like a concept album about the trials and tribulations of a man that becomes a werewolf... this could go one of two ways. Happily for this listener, it manages to negotiate the twin pitfalls of pretentiousness and self-indulgence that such a concept should be guilty of, and instead it goes the way of excellence.
Somewhere in the making of this album, JSBE's previously scrappy half-fragments of songs have been rounded off and finished. Rather than the reliance on random shouts of 'blues explosion!' to link together unrelated tracks, each track here has been crafted along the more conventional songwriting structures - but fans of the group will know that with the Blues Explosion, verse-chorus-verse will never sound anything like conventional.
The old influences and styles are written through this album like a stick of rock - the early rhythm and blues and rock fusion of riff-driven bands such as Booker T, Cream, Stones and Zeppelin, the power of the Who, the inventiveness and surreal lyrical preoccupations of Captain Beefheart (whose vocal delivery is becoming increasingly imitated by Jon Spencer). However, there is something unique happening beneath the influence-ridden surface that should be investigated further.
Praise is due for the production too - thunderous drumming, clear, crisp bass and the right level of lead guitar and vocals. If it weren't for the werewolf preoccupations, I'd say the group have grown up. As it is, they've merely given us one of 2002's brightest rock and roll moments so far.