Review Summary: It seems like everything Black Rebel Motorcycle Club creates on Beat The Devil’s Tattoo has been produced before... and they should know. It was done by them.
New releases from high profile bands are abound this year- Minus the Bear, The National, Radiohead, the list goes on and on. Naturally, high expectations are equally evident. I don’t think fans would be too
disappointed if one of said well-liked bands produced a similar-sounding albums. The stakes are different for the subject of this review, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, though. Fact of the matter is, they can’t get away with producing yet another unfocused, floundering album along the lines of Howl
, inconsistent and leaving much to be desired. Sadly, Beat The Devil's Tattoo
is pretty clear evidence of exactly that. Did BRMC make the same record again out of fear of a backlash? I can’t say. Either way though, Beat The Devil’s Tattoo
is a poor showing from a band reluctant to push themselves.
If you’ve heard BRMC’s soulful and bluesy take on indie rock before, you’ve heard more than enough of Beat The Devil's Tattoo
. The hazy, almost Southern drawl from Howl
is back at work again, albeit on a new label (the band’s own). The influence from psychedelic rock and harmonica-driven blues is all over BTDT
, but disappointingly it only results in an uneven product. Black Rebels’ prove that they can create a sinister, even interesting, atmosphere with a song like “River Styx.” Though, for every “River Styx,” there’s a few “War Machine”s, songs that miss their mark and come off as sloppy and misguided. On top of that, a penultimate 10-minute drag of a song results in a nearly unbearably boring end to the album. The whole of BTDT
is enveloped in a hazy fog, and it feels almost like the band went through afterwards and tried to cover up each song with enough effects to obscure the sound into oblivion. In most cases, simpler would have been better.
To reiterate though, my biggest complaint with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club can be attributed to the lack of growth. Moving to their own label, one would assume they can finally open up, be themselves, and experiment a little, try something new. That is certainly not the case here. The potential has been there, and it still remains. Tracks where Black Rebel Motorcycle Club turn up the heat a little along with the volume like “Bad Blood” or “Mama Taught Me Better” are proof. Beefy rock tracks with a little swagger and bounce, that
is what BRMC were meant to jam out to. More than anything, they feel honest- a sentiment that isn’t echoed throughout the record... bringing us back to the point that began the review.
It’s more than a little tiring to hear the same record again. When the tracks hit their end, and BRMC have had their chance, Beat The Devil’s Tattoo
comes off exactly as Howl. That same dark, fuzzy sound is abundant, and the whole thing feels unfocused. Had this not been so incredibly similar to the equally wavering Howl
, I'm sure my opinion would be a tad higher. Beat The Devil’s Tattoo
has nothing new to offer the stalling indie rock. I feel comfortable speculating that fans of the band will be relatively disappointed in the recycled material. It seems like everything Black Rebel Motorcycle Club creates on Beat The Devil’s Tattoo
has been produced before... and they should know. It was done by them.