The best thing about the release of "Baby 81" is that that the correct answer now to the trivia question "what was Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's third album" is "who cares?" (Not that it was a total howler of a record of course...)
- A bold statement, amigo, so back it up.
My pleasure... Driving guitars and thumping drums. Lyrics sung with a snarl. Tales of uncertain love. An album of smooth consistency, despite each track being readily distinguishable. Anthems to beat the band.
- Okay, honcho, this does sound like BRMC back on form.
You better believe it. After a promising opening number in "Took Out A Loan", we are straight into one of the best tracks on the album in "Berlin", which hits all the classic BRMC characteristics described above. Moreover, it's a lung-burster to sing along to live. With barely pause for breath, "Weapon of Choice" is in a similar mould and contains the controversial line for an American band of "I won't waste my love on a nation".
"Windows" is a change of pace, but touches on the BRMC obsession with uncertainty over what love is ("So how's it going to feel / When you don't know what's real / You tell yourself its love / Then tear your insides up"). "Cold Wind" takes a different perspective and seems to sing about someone who has been in so many relationships ("I've been here a thousand times I know") that he is no longer sure that he can love at all ("There's nothing left of this / They steal your innocence"). It has a very Stone Roses-sounding ending. "Not What You Wanted" then sings of repressed emotions, while "666 Conducer" is a tale of vulnerability and exploitation.
A little out of place, then, in terms of how it sounds is "All You Do Is Talk", which could easily have The Edge (circa 1987) guesting on lead and Bono then sneaking in, at some stage, to do the vocals. If it is intended as a single, then this could well be a mainstream commercial success for the band.
Not that they are done there and then. "Lien on Your Dreams", "Need Some Air" and "Killing the Light" are all fine tracks that get back to the snarl, drive, and thump, before the 9-minute epic "American X" is revealed - a fine but harsh song about the modern American spirit ("your open arms / they only seem to surrender / all that matters"). Evocative of The Doors at times, it feels a fraction of its length and leaves any number of similar criticisms of contemporary America floundering in its wake. There is then the dignified and poignant ending in "Am I Only".
If there is a criticism of this album, the lyrics are not always the smartest (e.g. "666 Conducer"). However, having seen this album played live, that criticism seems a little churlish. The words to these songs are utterly invigorating just to simply belt out.
In all, so, a tremendous back-to-basics record of booming sound, instantly memorable lines, and unashamedly leather-clad and shades-wearing rock music.
- Hasta la revolucion so, compadre?
You know you want to.
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