14 Songs, 1 Hour 5 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

When Howl, their 2005 detour into acoustic Dylanism, got a surprisingly warm response, one expected more of the same from San Francisco’s BRMC. Instead, they trumped those expectations by daring to return to the big noise of the ‘90s Britpop/Jesus & Mary Chain-rooted electric-guitar sound that made their original reputation here. Which isn’t to say they didn’t learn a few things about focused songcraft from their previous detour into rootsy Americana. As produced by the band and the Call’s Michael Been, early tracks like “Berlin” and the single “Weapon of Choice” never let the sonic murk get in the way of the hooks, a balancing act that doesn’t necessarily yield the same results on the album’s middle third. The album’s gravity point seems the expansive “American X,” which drones with ambitious Psychedelic Furs intensity, if not quite the same hypnotic intrigue. It’s an album that strikes a complicated bargain, daring to return to the aura that won the band its original following, while challenging the converts it won with Howl.  

EDITORS’ NOTES

When Howl, their 2005 detour into acoustic Dylanism, got a surprisingly warm response, one expected more of the same from San Francisco’s BRMC. Instead, they trumped those expectations by daring to return to the big noise of the ‘90s Britpop/Jesus & Mary Chain-rooted electric-guitar sound that made their original reputation here. Which isn’t to say they didn’t learn a few things about focused songcraft from their previous detour into rootsy Americana. As produced by the band and the Call’s Michael Been, early tracks like “Berlin” and the single “Weapon of Choice” never let the sonic murk get in the way of the hooks, a balancing act that doesn’t necessarily yield the same results on the album’s middle third. The album’s gravity point seems the expansive “American X,” which drones with ambitious Psychedelic Furs intensity, if not quite the same hypnotic intrigue. It’s an album that strikes a complicated bargain, daring to return to the aura that won the band its original following, while challenging the converts it won with Howl.  

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