Black Rebel Motorcycle Club B.R.M.C.

[Virgin; 2001]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: indie rock
Others: Charlatans UK, The Strokes, Interpol, Spiritualized

I was dubious about this new band called Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, a bit of a cheesy name for a band. They were named after Marlon Brando's biker gang in The Wild One. Fair enough. It could imply some faded glamour in a Manic Street Preacher kind of way. If you know what I mean, you are a Manics fan and God help you. If you don't, well, let it be. The first single “Whatever happened to my Rock n Roll” didn't really have me convinced, a bit of a novelty act. Dandy Warhols came to mind. Punk rockers don't do commercials motherfucker! But it's a great song. It rocks hard. But the lyrics are a bit old for 2002.

So far, then, we have two cases for retro that don't convince. The cover shows the band to be all black image boys. Again, dated. Strike Three! You sound like a Corporate Mary Chain! You're outta here!’ I heard a snippet of “Love Burns” and it sounded nice enough. It lacked any fake bombast of the image or the first single. But I held out hope, as I gave in and bought the album. I'm instinctive. If it feels right do it. (That's why I'm homeless and consider laxatives to be food).

At home in my basement room “Love Burns” sounds mellow and you notice how beautiful the production is on this album. On first listen, the tracks which stand out are “Whatever happened…” and “Love Spreads”. These are the two upbeat rockers. The album is more like a chilled out barroom Spiritualized-- more whisky and heroin, than pills and lager. On “Awake”, gothic towers of guitars spiral down from far above. And a much darker feel starts to pervade the album than I expected. The two upbeat tracks are placed at tracks 3 and 9, so the album doesn't burst forth, it sidles into view before making a bit of an effort, then descends again before rallying again-- only to sink back down. A comedown album.

It's night music. It has depth. It, and I don't say this lightly, has class. It's very tasteful. No stupid lyrics or crass scratchy guitars, or guitars through sausage machines. So what I'm saying is don't be fooled by the name. They're not beer guzzling biker rockers. They're not spiky agit-poppers. But then again they're not popping pills and putting beats and Aphex Twin effects on their tracks. They're a bit like And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, but a bit more sedated at this point in time. It's just that evil life that's got you in its sway.

1. Love Burns
2. Red Eyes and Tears
3. Whatever Happened to My Rock 'N Roll
4. Awake
5. White Palms
6. As Sure as the Sun
7. Rifles
8. Too Real
9. Spread Your Love
10. Head up High
11. Salvation