Album: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

BRMC, Virgin
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"I gave my soul to a new religion/ Whatever happened to my rock'n'roll?" enquire Black Rebel Motorcycle Club on their debut single, "Whatever Happened to My Rock'n'Roll (Punk Song)". The answer is that it either wised up fast and surfed whatever changes came along, or got bogged down in the past – like BRMC, whose name derives from Brando's biker gang in The Wild One, and whose music superficially derives from the mid-Eighties drone-rock of bands such as My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus and Mary Chain. That, however, is a disservice to MBV and JAMC, whose work had an experimental edge and sheer noise attack that is largely absent from BRMC's plodding psychedelic grunge-rock. Tracks such as "Love Burns" and "As Sure as the Sun" grind along abjectly, sluggish of tone and tempo. Worse still is "Spread Your Love", a footnote to "Spirit in the Sky" but lacking its optimistic mien: "spreading love like a fever" sounds, on this evidence, like a grim experience, devoid of ecstasy and affection. It's the old problem of inspiration vs influence. Like all retro-rock outfits, BRMC are hidebound by their influences and prevented from capturing an authentic rock'n'roll experience by their mannered appropriation of antique attitudes. They come close to realising as much when, in the slow-burning dirge-rocker "Too Real", they ask, "Does it feel too real when everything you've learnt and loved seems to change?/ When everything you thought you'd fixed seems the same?" Not real enough, by half.