“Haunt” is the newest song to be unveiled by the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in preparation for their new album. It is to be featured on the band’s studio release “Wrong Creatures”. And if this is intended as a calling card, then we’re in for a chilling experience. The song does what BRMC has hinted at throughout its entire career and a sound they now seem to have perfected. It’s music that creates an otherwordly, veiled image, drenched in melancholy and reflection. It’s not loud. But make no mistake. It’s simmering with anger, viciousness and passion. If “Whatever happened to my rock n’ roll” was the cathartic evening stomp, “Haunt” is the nighttime, walk home.
Every time Black Rebel Motorcycle Club gets ready to release new music, you get the sense the songs are infused with personal experiences having to do with reaching the outskirts of hell. Then taking the long journey back and shaping the stories into sound. It’s a song of murky, autumn days, with shadows dancing slowly on a white background. It’s what the band does best. And given their track record, it’s not a style they search for, but rather the sound they’re blessed/cursed to have inherited.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Haunt lyrics and melody reveal familiar tension
And there’s a lot to be said about what BRMC has inherited exactly from dark-souled, rock heroes of the past of whose works they seem to be very knowledgeable. Seen by some as the natural succesors to bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain (and by a few critics as mere copy cats), the American band has had to fight its way out of the reputation they had set for themselves on their first two releases. After all, the BRMC was one of numerous bands linked to the garage-rock revival of the early 2000’s. And while the Strokes seemed joyous but too proud to admit it, and Interpol seemed dark, but happy to camouflage themselves in stylish attire, the BRMC’s music seemed to suggest a band on the brink.
Take yourself apart from me
Down into a flame
You’re everything one could keep
You’re worn with every face
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Haunt lyrics are set as the focal point here. Robert Levon Been whispers the words as if trying to invoke the spirit of a lost, loved one. There are few rays of light being spread around. The song moves slowly as deliberately if trying to avoid scaring the audience away.
Light another melody
And drown into the sound
I’ve buried every living thing
Deeper than the ground
BRMC have a flair for the dramatic and the lyrics to Haunt, one of their best songs, perfectly reflect this. The tension of the song is rarely if ever removed. And it ends, purposely one would assume, without resolving the conflict. There’s no relief. The tone of the new album may just have been heard in Been’s trembling voice.
Thematically, the new number recalls songs like Mercy, albeit electrified. The mood of the record is also in line with the songs found on 2005’s Howl, the band’s most devisive record. While their third release and the newest material rarely share the same type of instrumentation, they weave a similar spell over the listeners. Newer songs like Echo, King of bones or Spook, to be found on new album Wrong Creatures, further explore that territory and are destined to be part of the main attractions when the band has returned on tour.
Let’s get this out of the way. It’s almost impossible to review the BRMC earnestly. The band is one of the groups that are beloved or hated, rarely in between. Seen as out of time or as very stylish, as cynical or intensely passionate. One cannot find objective reasons why the band’s music should be regarded as a success. However, I lean towards the latter in all of the above.
“Haunt” is one of the best songs I have heard this year. Masterfully put together, yet emotional. Emotional, yet dense in the atmosphere it creates. Seventeen years after their debut, BRMC look inspired and ready to keep themselves moving forward.