Open to Adventure
On Baby 81, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club charge forth with the down-and-dirty swagger-tastic rock of â€šÃ„ÃºTook Out a Loan,â€šÃ„Ã¹ â€šÃ„ÃºBerlinâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºWeapon of Choice.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Drummer Nick Jago is back from BRMC exile, and after a foray into Americana on their previous album Howl the band has returned to the big, buzzy rock that launched them into the public eye in 1999.However, this is not to say that BRMC have not progressed. The band lets a new throng of influences run wild, mating and metamorphosing at will. â€šÃ„ÃºWindowsâ€šÃ„Ã¹ begins as a Beatlesque piano ditty but is met by the signature fuzz and drama of Peter Hayes’ guitar and Robert Been’s bass. â€šÃ„ÃºKilling the Lightâ€šÃ„Ã¹ sounds like Shelley Fabares’ â€šÃ„ÃºJohnny Angelâ€šÃ„Ã¹ (complete with falsetto courtesy of Hayes) if it were made in an abandoned garage in the filthiest part of the filthiest city. â€šÃ„ÃºAll You Do is Talkâ€šÃ„Ã¹ could be an ’80s pop ballad recorded in a cavernous gymnasium by the loneliest kids in your school.
Baby 81 is a patchwork of sounds and textures. Although the songs are tied together by powerful drumming and reverb-heavy guitars that appeal to indie kids and classic rockers alike, the album is a journey more than a destination. Surprises abound: Who would expect the military beat of â€šÃ„ÃºAmerican Xâ€šÃ„Ã¹ to be followed by â€šÃ„ÃºAm I Only,â€šÃ„Ã¹ a delicate ballad with a string arrangement? Who would expect a song called â€šÃ„Ãº666 Conducerâ€šÃ„Ã¹ is more than a shallow rock-for-rockâ€šÃ„Ã´s-sake romp?
Those who look to BRMC as the ship that will carry them back to true rockâ€šÃ„Ã´nâ€šÃ„Ã´roll find the album to start strong and finishes with failed experiments. Those with open minds will find an adventure on new musical shores.