Music News

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

On 2005's Howl, the Rebels stepped sideways, turning down the fuzz tone in favor of a more acoustic-based take on folk and blues. But don't come to Baby 81 expecting additional twists. The disc marks a return to BRMC's signature sound, and while it's likely to please the combo's longtime boosters, it's not exactly a bold artistic leap forward.

"Took Out a Loan," the first track here, sends a message about the players' intent by way of hard-n-nasty guitar, slam-bang rhythms and lines such as "I feel confused about the way it's done" that singer Peter Hayes growls with as much Anglophilic attitude as he can muster. Later, on "Weapon of Choice" (the album's first single), Hayes and cohorts Robert Levon Been and Nick Jago hint at a Howl moment with an unplugged intro before ripping into the sort of garage-y psychedelia that helped establish their rep.

Baby 81 is satisfying, albeit in an extremely familiar way. If these guys don't start mixing things up, no new members will want to visit their Club.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts