Black Rebel Motorcycle Club might change their name to Black Conformist Motorcycle Club because of the slavish attention they pay to their genre. Beat the Devil’s Tattoo stays comfortably inside the fuzzy, retro garage that BRMC has painstakingly built and the album champions the same gritty, slinky, almost dark, sound they’ve always had. So what’s wrong with that? Nothing, I guess, if you’re good at it.
Though they cling to the conventions that got them where they are, songs like “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo” and “Mama Taught Me Better” epitomize their bluesy shoegazer comparison to The Jesus and Mary Chain. The songs are hazy, but straightforward with an anthemic presentation that keeps them from sounding like boring retreads.
“Shadow Keeper” and “Evol” remind me of Oasis – in a good way, by harnessing the retro rawness of 60′s rock and peppering it with modern nuances to keep it from being completely derivative. When I say Oasis, I mean Definitely, Maybe Oasis. The band that came out with a Beatles inspired Brit-rock album in the middle of the grunge era. This is before Oasis took the low road to Shitsville in their follow-up efforts.
“Bad Blood” separates itself from the formulaic script of the rest of the album by giving a glimpse at a slightly more dynamic version of BRMC. The standard groove rock is dressed up with sing-along hooks and interesting tonal guitar melodies woven throughout.¬† The Sabbath-like plodding of “Aya” also is another slight deviation from BRMC’s chosen path with the aggression of loose, growling power riffs. The album closes with another garage antithesis, “Half-State.” The track is an attempt at an epic rocker and although it maintains interest throughout its 10 minutes, it lacks the energy and fluidity to warrant its length.
BRMC didn’t record anything new or groundbreaking here, but they are really good at what they do. Beat the Devil’s Tattoo is a strong collection of tunes defining a band that stands as a pillar in their genre.
Written for REAX Online 3.16.2010