Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Quite a few people went to great lengths to praise the divergent path that Black Rebel Motorcycle Club took on its third album, Howl. The disc saw the band embracing a more organic sound, replacing the hypnotic layers of psychedelic guitars that marked its first two discs with a more stripped-down approach that directly referenced blues, country, and even gospel sounds. However, the phrases "ex-Brian Jonestown Massacre" (as in, BRMC guitarist Peter Hayes) and "I heard it on NPR" (as in, what a number of parents were saying to their Pitchfork-reading kids in an effort to bond over "new music") are a deeply unnatural fit. Not surprisingly, the band's latest album, Baby 81, finds it leaving behind the Starbucks-friendly sound of Howl for a return to its swirling, feedback-filled ways. In a sense, it's almost as if BRMC took its Jesus & Mary Chain worship so seriously that it decided to make its own Stoned and Dethroned and then got back to making a record that reminds listeners of exactly what the band is supposed to sound like. The thing is, the Mary Chain broke up after it released Munki. Let's hope BRMC doesn't follow too closely in their path.

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Jason Ferguson