Local Wire

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Fans expecting more crushing feedback, pile-driver drumming and arty, late-'90s-style British bluster will be shocked by the quiet, introspective vibe BRMC displays on its third outing. There's plenty of overdubbing -- Autoharp, congas, piano, organ, drums and electric-guitar noise -- but the mix has an unplugged feel that leaves the vocals of Robert Been (previously Turner) and Peter Hayes room to connect with the listener on a more personal level. Most of the music here falls someplace between progressive Americana and acoustic rock, with more than a hint of gospel and R&B in the arrangements. The darkness is still there, and the lyrics still play heavily on the themes of loss, limitation and mortality, but on tunes like "Still Suspicion Holds You Tight" and "Restless Sinner," the ambiguities of life are juggled in a quiet, intimate way that sounds more confessional, more mature, more vulnerable. The music may be stripped down to its bare essentials, but BRMC still packs an emotional wallop.
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J. Poet