The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club 

Howl

The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, it seems, has found Jesus. After a decade spent wrapped in guitar-noise cellophane, they’ve emerged baptized and thoroughly countrified on Howl, their latest album. But even at their most soulful, their former fondness for English rock shines through, thwarting attempts at authentic Americana. This is a good thing: their subtle balance of hypnotic drum beats, distortion, and gospel usually works. Their delivery, too, is surprisingly cool; even though they never reach the rasping howl advertised in their title, they achieve a nice balance between velvet and grit in their vocals. If anything, it’s the lyrics that don’t hold up under close scrutiny; poorly constructed verses just don’t measure up to the big wide sound that supports them. With a handful of bluesy harmonica solos and twangy guitar hooks, B.R.M.C. has rolled the shoe-gazer dice on a new Old Country sound. One can only hope they don’t expect the novelty to last ? there isn’t much ground left to cover down that long and dusty road.


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