Album Review: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - 'Beat The Devil's Tattoo' (Abstract Dragon/Co-Op)

An earnest offering and not much else

“No apologies, no lyrics, no regrets, just abstract,” BRMC said of ‘The Effects Of 333’, the background noise album they put out at the tail end of 2008. This statement, coupled with the fact that a) it sounded like – well, it was – the product of a competent-but-ultimately-quite-conservative Jesus & Fairly Plain three-piece skimming the Wikipedia entry for Lou Reed’s ‘Metal Machine Music’ and b) barely anyone even noticed it had been released, tells you all you need to know about where this band are currently at. Nearly 10 years after their debut album, they STILL think they are the most badass bunch of outlaws in town, challenging and making massive ‘FUCK YOU’ signs at every turn. The rest of the world, meanwhile, is just a bit like, “Oh yeah, those guys.”

So what we get on BRMC’s fifth album ‘proper’ is… well, I mean they’ve actually written a fucking song called ‘River Styx’. Seriously! And every single one of the lyrics is either a really, really lame Spacemen Zero drug innuendo (the – hey! – 10-minute epic ‘’Half-State’), about ‘twisted’ love (the – hey! – ‘stripped down’ ‘Sweet Feeling’s Gone’) or mentions “highways”. There’s another song called ‘Consience Killer’, on which one of them sneers, “I’m a preacher with a gun!” This, of course, would all be fine if there was even a milligram of knowingness, and if it wasn’t all always backed by the kind of drivetime-Velvets fuzz that says “deep down, I am quite scared of talking heroin, don’t really understand Naked Lunch and secretly prefer Bon Jovi to The Stooges. However, I want the world to think I’m, y’know, dark.”

BRMC “mean it”, for sure. The problem is they mean it in the way Spinal Tap mean it.

Hamish MacBain

Click here to get your copy of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's 'Beat The Devil's Tattoo' from the Rough Trade shop
4 / 10

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