Everyone's cashing in on this whole "black" thing. Black Keys. Black Eyes. Black Dice. Black Flag. Black Sabbath. Ritchie Blackmore. None More Black. But California's Black Rebel Motorcycle has got them all beat. Besides their black band name, the guys in the band have black hair, black boots, black jeans and black leather jackets -- not to mention black holes in their chests where their souls ought to be. BRMC's self-titled debut from a couple of years ago succeeded mostly on the merit of its monochromatic novelty, which made the White Stripes look downright prismatic by comparison. But that album's scuzzy blues did at least bear a certain homely, gunk-caked grace. The follow-up effort takes the tar-thick gravity of its predecessor, wipes the grime off the chrome and slaps some racing slicks on it. It's faster, sleeker, cleaner and, yes, agonizingly dull. All those Jesus and Mary Chain comparisons still (sadly) fit the band's music; it hasn't grown or asked anyone out to the dance or even left its parents' basement over the past two years. But if the first BRMC record was a Darklands sandwich surrounded by thick slices of Psychocandy and Automatic, this new one is something someone dropped on the floor during the Munki sessions. Actually, Take Them On, On Your Own sounds, more than anything else, like Love and Rockets doing a tribute album to the Cult. Yeah, it's that good. And as for the whole black shtick: Jeff Beck wanking off with B.B. King on Jay Leno the other night possessed more deep, ominous, stygian mystique than all ten million copies of Take Them On melted into a big, black, plastic lump.
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