Night Beats successfully revamp for Who Sold My Generation

Who Sold My GenerationThere’s a whole lot of newness in play on the third album from Seattle’s Night Beats. Firstly, it’s their debut offering on Heavenly, a label that has become known for psychedelic records and tight quality control, having put out albums from the likes of NOTS, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard & Stealing Sheep over the past year or so. Secondly, Who Sold My Generation marks a shift toward a more muscular sound, hinted at on their first two records. Lastly - and perhaps most importantly - this is the band’s first full-length since the departure of Tarek Wegner in 2014.

Rather than replace him, Night Beats - who are Danny Lee Blackwell on guitar and vocals; Jakob Bowden on  bass; and James Traeger on drums - have reassembled the band into a power trio, and their new record is certainly powerful. "Celebration #1" and "Power Child" ensure that things open on a high note, with the latter’s breezy vocals and hip-shaking bass line ensuring that it becomes an immediate highlight. It’s a riff-laden take on old-school (read: pre-1970s) r'n'b. "No Cops", meanwhile, is reminiscent of the likes of T-Rex in their heyday. Indeed, Blackwell’s vocals sometimes bear an uncanny resemblance to Marc Bolan’s.

After a suitably emphatic opening run of songs, things settle down momentarily so that the slow-burning "Porque Mañana" can make its mark; relative to the rest of the record, it’s quite chilled, and features Blackwell singing in Spanish - though you may not be able to tell at first as his vocals are soaked in reverb. "Burn to Breathe", meanwhile, shines the spotlight on Traeger’s versatile drumming, the song’s stuttering, stop-start structure and effortless groove allowing his talents to shine. Another highlight is the brass-assisted "Bad Love", which comes off as Suck It and See-era Arctic Monkeys on a blues kick, after watching too many episodes of bad cop shows from the 80s. It shouldn’t work, but it really does.

Albums of this nature tend to be frustratingly front-loaded; with a 12-track record such as this, you sometimes listen to it and hope it doesn’t take a dive mid-way through. However, driven by the urge to prove themselves as a trio, Night Beats have crafted an album that deserves your attention from front to back. Sure, there may be a few growers, and penultimate track "Turn the Lights" is dwarfed by its successor, the surprising "Egypt Berry," but there isn’t an ounce of filler, and Who Sold My Generation’s peaks rank among some of the band’s best work to date. Even if January 2016 has been a ridiculously busy time for music - remember when it used to be the quietest month of the year? - you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you let this album pass you by.

Release: 29th January 2016, Pias

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