This will be my first album review of 2018 so I was hoping it would be a band that I could connect with, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club fit perfectly since I have been listening to the music of the Been family for many decades. Robert Levon Been, the bass player in BRMC, is the son of Michael Been who formed his band The Call in the 1970’s, Robert Levon started his musical career at the age of 15 when he appeared as bassist on his father’s 1994 solo album, On the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough. Michael Been was heavily involved in BRMC as their sound engineer and toured with them.
When I heard that BRMC was releasing an album on January 13th, I went to their back catalog to refresh my ears to their sound with American X Baby 81 sessions and Howl, and then I went back to BRMC’s newest release, Wrong Creatures.
The album opens with minimalist drums, some slap bass and an almost chorus-like effect that fades in and out along with some singular voices, some guitar and that’s it. Nearly 2 minutes of musique concrete. I was not disappointed.
The second song which repeatedly tells us that it is just another song fits the shoes perfectly because it is just another song. Standard fare with opening verse, pre-chorus, chorus and guitar noodling. Sorry but it never rises above being just another song.
The third song in we get King of Bones which I liked the guitar and effects, some effort went into the production here. Layers of sound, good harmonics, good spatial feel. King of Bones is the King of Wrong Creatures for me.
Haunt and Echo, the fourth and fifth songs slide by without notice.
Ninth Configuration, the sixth song of 12 captured some of the energy, pulse and flow that I had come to appreciate in their previous material. The lyrics of this song also seemed to have more of the BRMC signature on it. Good song anyhow.
The next track, Question of Faith, brought BRMC back to familiar ground and this track rocked solidly and with lyrics that were consistent with their previous material without sounding old. It also sneaks the topics of existentialism and theology in without coming across as preachy.
Next song is Calling Them All Away and I think someone carried the energy and momentum of the last few songs away because this felt like putting the brakes on.
Little Thing Gone Wild brings us back to the sound and sensibilities of BRMC that got me listening to them in the first place. This song chugs along with a great groove and intelligent lyrics. Good stuff
Toss out the lyrics to the next song Circus Bazooko and we have a moderately interesting instrumental.
The next song is aptly named Carried From The Start, it carries the lack of substance from the front of this album to nearly the back.
At the back, closing out the album, we have the song All Rise, which starts slowly with soft vocals and a single church piano, it gradually builds and gains momentum as well as instruments. Some nice violin in the mix of this track. A grand exit of an album that I confess I struggled to like, but I listened to it over and over and read the lyrics and let it soak into me and now I think it is a decent album.
Perhaps not the highlight of their career but certainly not the worst either. I still like BRMC and will continue to listen to this album for the little gems that I didn’t hear on previous spins.