Angels of Destruction(Yep Roc)

In rock criticism, there is a heavily relied upon move employed by writers, either to defend boring bands or to make up for not actually having anything to say about the band they’re reviewing. It goes like this: “Band A have incorporated elements of Bands X, Y and Z, and yet they still manage to sound completely original.” Now, this is problematic not only because it’s always bullshit but because, truth be told, originality is sort of a silly thing to use as a requirement for rock music. Yes, ideally, we’d all like to be blown away by the unmitigated originality of a new band every day, but if we place too fine a point on it, we’re setting ourselves up for a lifetime of listening only to Björk. And that would be terrible. The most we can hope for is that a band uses its influences, doesn’t sound like a cookie cutter or cover band, and actually has something to communicate to potential listeners, and that whatever it is helps to give them an identity of their own. Marah, for instance, sound like a combination of the Replacements and Bruce Springsteen. It’s not a knock on them; they just do. And it’s ok, because they’ve always had something to say — about the redemptive power of rock and roll and about the merit of the rebelliousness that’s always gone hand in hand with great rock and roll. And on Angels of Destruction, they’re saying it louder and more clearly than they ever have. The record, like all their others, is full of references to struggles with drugs and booze, but this time around there’s a genuine sense that they’re trying to overcome something, that those redemptive qualities of rock and roll are being leaned on more than ever. Beneath all the shuffling beats, wild guitars and soulful screaming we’ve been hearing for decades, there’s the sound of a band that’s finally drinking its own kool-aid, the sound of a band that’s been through hell and come out on top, basking in a glory they know might only be temporary. With all that being said, are we really supposed to complain that they still sound like Bruce Springsteen?      


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