There are bands, and then there is Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Emerging from San Francisco in 1998, the trio quickly became popular with their powerfully charged shows, dark demeanor and a psychedelic sound rivaled only by The Dandy Warhols. With the release of their critically acclaimed self-titled effort in 2001, the band and their unique noise became renowned worldwide, drawing comparisons to bands like the Jesus And Mary Chain and Primal Scream. Britain’s rock band NME even went so far as to label them “the rightful heirs of the Enigmatic and Vaguely Dangerous-Looking Men In Black crown,” as to which only one band may outwardly hold in a given decade. So truth be told, they stand out with their overall sonic superiority. But how can a band with such newfound fame improve upon their great situation?
With their last effort, B.R.M.C. certainly made one of the best albums of the past five years. Yet the only thing greater than that album was the touring done behind it. After all, what good is a record if a band cannot play it in front of a crowd? So with this in mind, B.R.M.C. took on their new record, “Take Them On, On Your Own.” Being less experimental than their debut release, the new album holds more of an emphasis on the band’s live sound. According to them in a recent interview, “We’re tighter as a group now and we’ve actually learned to play our instruments now, so it’s more raw.” In respect to the 12 tracks that encompass the album, each of them has something unique to say and has a sleeker sound to say it with.
In true form to B.R.M.C.’s debut, the band starts “Take Them On, On Your Own” with the album’s most accessible song, “Stop.” The song is a four-and-a-half minute rock anthem that is nothing less than the band’s greatest hit to date. Driven by fast, swelling guitars and a bassline that would make the average metal-head melt, “Stop” exudes a feeling of grandeur from start to finish. Here, it becomes obvious that the band’s musicianship really has gone up, so much so that the only thing more commendable is the song’s charged lyrics. Speaking of losing one’s grasp on time and trying to run away, the only resolve given is that “We don’t know where to stop.” But with the new album in mind, it’s only just begun.
BRMC knows about love. Perhaps that’s why two of its biggest hits are called “Love Burns” and “Spread Your Love.” Then again, it could be the result of “We’re All In Love,” the band’s latest diatribe into that ever-popular feeling. With its first few chords, the song’s potential becomes fully apparent. Launching into a seemingly perfect mix of lightly-distorted guitar and bass, “We’re All In Love” is a clear display of BRMC at their finest, rocking together, and well for that matter. With its lyrics, the song becomes all the more moving. Focusing on the idea that everyone needs love, and that “we’re all in love with something that we cannot see,” the song’s potent but progressive attitude comes into full fruition.
If there was ever one song on “Take Them On, On Your Own” that exemplifies BRMC’s pure songwriting prowess, it would have to be “In Like The Rose.” Dealing with a situation where a lonely man tries in vain to bring back the girl he loved, the song’s longing and desperation are far from seclusion. But keeping in mind the band’s sonically straightforward outlook, “In Like The Rose” still manages to rock. Filled with tremolo-laden riffs and booming tones, the song’s sad subject matter is counteracted quite well and in a manner that makes the whole experience hard to forget.
When all is said and done, the simple fact of the matter is that BRMC has made an artistic triumph with “Take Them On, On Your Own.” They’ve managed to supercede the superb sound of their debut by taking on their performing personas, and in turn they’ve become stronger than ever. As for finer aspects, the band’s newfound strength enables the album to exude an attitude of cool.
With its “light at the end of the tunnel” cover and 55:55 running time, they give credibility where few seem to find it. But in the end, what really matters is the music. BRMC writes great songs and performs them to an even greater degree, and it is because of such that the new record is so worthwhile.
With all things considered, “Take Them On, On Your Own” is pound for pound the next big sound.