A year after dropping former label, Virgin and losing drummer and founding member Nick Vago, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Howl marks a rebirth in the band’s sound and direction. While their self-titled debut and Take Them On, On Your Own were bathed in fuzz-boxed guitar and James Dean-inspired defiance, Howl explores a deeper sense of classic Americana, pulling blues, folk and gospel influences. “Shuffle Your Feet” and “Ain’t No Easy Way” both twinge with dirty slide resonator steel guitar twang, while “Devil’s Waitin'” and “Restless Sinner” evoke the eerie acoustic introspectiveness of Johnny Cash. The lyrics of most songs are far from prolific, but their tales of sin, corruption and alienation are sometimes representative of a disaffected youth caught in an uncertain world. The title track, “Howl,” toes the line of protest by belting out, “I don’t wanna give up tomorrow / I just can’t understand why we’re going on,” over a swirling Leslie organ and marching drum beat. Fans of BRMC’s past albums may be upset in the acute departure from the band’s previous bat-out-of-hell indie rock sound, but BRMC is bound to win over many new fans with Howl’s quieter atmospheric Americana folk.
Archived article by Tyler Grove