Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has had an interesting last few years since the release of their highly acclaimed Baby 81 studio album back in 2007. It’s a new decade, and a new era for the band. Former drummer Nick Jago left the band last year (or quit, he’d had some miscellaneous issues and had left the band a few times and came back) and was replaced with Ravonettes drummer Lisa Shapiro. On Beat the Devil’s Tattoo, we find a lot of the same from the band who’s bluesy undertones mix in with their heavier textured distortion. This album mixes a lot of those influences more than the other albums in the past have, which makes for an interesting listen.
Title track “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo” leads things off with a foot stomping anthem, which is something unlike anything we’ve seen from this band in the past. We can hear portions of Baby 81 (“Bad Blood”) as well as Howl-esque tracks (“Sweet Feeling”) throughout the album. “Mama Taught Me Better” is driven by Robert Levon Been, which vocals blend together with dual singer-songwriter Peter Hayes on many of the tracks throughout Tattoo.
During portions of the album, you tend to wonder where things are going to change for the band. They do such a great job of incorporating these influences that they tend to forget the idea of making something brand new. “Evol” draws a similar sound to “Awake”, a track from their self-titled debut, as well as “Long Way Down”, which feels like something that was a long lost sibling of “Promise” off of Howl. It’s not always a terrible thing to keep your sound similar to things of the past, but there are points at which you forget what album you’re listening to out of their catalog.
There are many strengths to the album, however, behind all of the blues smothered tracks. 10-plus-minute “Half-State” and the heavy moaner “War Machine” and “Aya” make a serious impression on the album’s image all together. The band has made it’s return to the forefront, even through all the difficulties within the band in the past few years. When it comes down to it, their catalog is pretty spectacular, so it’s difficult to live up or even surpass those expectations when working with new people. Been and Hayes are the true masterminds behind the outfit, and continue to put out music most people will never hear of. Here at WPGU, we find ourselves writing about albums that may be unfamiliar to most, and we think that this band would almost like it better if we didn’t publish anything about them. Don’t worry, a lot of the time it seems like they couldn’t care less what type of recognition they get, because they would most likely put their cigarettes out on the headlining article in a magazine, and that’s ok with us.
Key Tracks: “War Machine”, “Aya”, “Mama Taught Me Better”
Recommended if you like: The Black Keys, The Kills, and The Dead Weather.
WPGU Music Staff Rating: W-P-½
W = Poor
W-P = OK
W-P-G = Good
W-P-G-U = Great!