“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” – A Bronx Tale
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s debut, B.R.M.C, was tantalizing. The thick reverb and dreamy vocals lent the otherwise typical garage rock a shoegaze quality. The songs were dark and haunting. Tomorrow held lots of promise for these fellas.
So it’s a surprise that their latest album, Take Them On, On Your Own, leaves a sour taste. The idea behind the album isn’t bad on paper—a record of twelve songs that sound like “Whatever Happened to My Rock N’ Roll (Punk Song),” one of BRMC’s best tracks. And it’s not really bad in its execution—the performances and production are good, for sure. The guitars are crisp, the drums pound and the bass thunders like on every great rock album [I thought it was the drums that do the thundering – ed.]. So why is Take Them On, On Your Own such a letdown? The songs. Forget the fact that the band have abandoned the droning bass lines and dreamy vocals of their debut in favor of more generic leather-jacket rock; the most disappointing thing about this album is that all of the power chords, tough-guy leads and call-to-action vocals are completely put to waste in songs that just aren’t that special. The songs here go through the motions, but none do enough to come off as memorable. They’re excellent in their ability to go unnoticed—nothing on this album jumps out. “And I’m Aching” changes pace and veers into typical ballad mode, dropping the tough guy act for the first time in BRMC’s short-lived career and comes away sounding like a Dashboard Confessional demo.
When BRMC was released, people took notice because during the boom of nu-garage bands that were all the supposed “next best thing,” Black Rebel Motorcycle Club actually sounded as if they could pull away from the pack. Now, they’ve resorted to the type of shite that has made their less accomplished peers substantially more profitable. I’d like to believe BRMC didn’t do it for the money—that the rock god act (although a bit overdone) was genuine, but I’m not sure. Either way, Take Them On, On Your Own is worse than bad. At least bad music gets a rise out of me—this album leaves me nothing to think about other then how hungry I am.