June 18, 2009
Album review: Amazing Baby - 'Rewild'
MGMT’s crazier mates channel their rock-dinosaur heroes – in ambition, at least
6 / 10
For their NME Radar shoot last year, Amazing Baby appeared – beaded, head-banded, half-naked – draped lasciviously across a bed with a load of ethnic jumble and a couple of doe-eyed Anita Pallenberg types. Mere months into their career, and with barely a note recorded, they were already lording it up like Led Zep at the Hyatt.
There was a playful irony in the pose too, of course – like their boho Brooklyn buddies MGMT, Amazing Baby want to have their (hash) cake and eat it – but it was also a statement of intent. At the very least, this was a band prepared to fall flat on their faces for a brief, intoxicating whiff of rock notoriety.
‘Rewild’ certainly doesn’t stint on ambition. The band batter you around the head with the kitchen sink in an attempt to get you to sit up and take notice, sometimes to the point where it simply gives you a headache. But it’s hard to argue with the Amadeus opulence of thumping opener ‘Bayonets’ or the dumb, thirsty riffage of ‘Pump Yr Brakes’.
Amazing Baby’s favourite trick is to combine the strident glam posturing of Bolan and Bowie with something more spectral: ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ on ‘Invisible Palace’; the bubblegum spacerock of M83 on ‘Headdress’. Yet sometimes these two impulses, rather than achieve a mind-blowing fusion, cancel each other out. Melodies get waylaid in the galactic fog and singer Will Roan rarely seems willing to grasp a song by its swingers.
Sometimes it’s like listening to ‘Oracular Spectacular’ playing in the room next door. ‘Deerripper’ sounds curiously like Kasabian, which reminds you that as much as Tom and Serge might wibble on about ‘SF Sorrow’ and cyborgs, they’re bish-bosh tune merchants at heart. Amazing Baby arrive at a similar place but from the opposite direction: they’ve got the style, but they lack punch. It’s not until the terrific SFA stomp of ‘Smoke Bros’ that they come up with a refrain – “we are starving cannibals!” – that really lodges in your subconscious. ‘Rewild’ could do with being a little more crude a little more often.
Overall, you’re reminded most of those original post-punk psychedelics The Teardrop Explodes. Their frontman Julian Cope always talked a better game than he ever managed to deliver, although that didn’t stop him from being a total hero. Amazing Baby could yet be our new shamans.
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