Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Love Burns

(Virgin, 2001)

These guys often have their biographical wagon hitched to the Brian Jonestown Massacre, since Peter Hayes was apparently a BJM member at some point. But while both bands are image-conscious leather-jacket types mining similar guitar-rock eras, Brian Jonestown at least had and has the strong material to back it all up. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, unfortunately, comes off as a bunch of lunkheaded (though rather likeably lunkheaded, I’ll admit) styloids more interested in being IN a rock band than actually being a GOOD rock band. It’s pretty paint-by-numbers: the vocals are JAMC cool, the dum-dum lyrics go for a vaguely druggy intensity, the guitars crunch when you expect them to crunch and swirl when you expect them to swirl. This 2x7” even contains a double-shot bid for soulful authenticity with “Down Here” – which, yes, features bluesy harmonica – and the sub-Spiritualized-isms of “Salvation” (“So Jesus left you lonely…”). I suppose BRMC was filling a void in the big so-called “garage revival” earlier this decade, standing in as the dangerous, psychedelically-inclined rawkers, and there’s no reason to begrudge them that; they’re not BAD, after all. The shtick is ultimately inoffensive, and it’s undeniable they do cause a toe to tap (“Love Burns”) or a head to nod (“Salvation”) every now and then, but could anyone actually love this band?

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