Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Specter At The Feast

by Cara McGrath (Graphic Design), published May 8th 2013

Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!

brmcspecterBlack Rebel Motorcycle Club is one of those bands that eventually catches your interest for one reason or another: their long lifespan, a wannabe badass name, or their appearance on a Twilight soundtrack. After hearing only a few songs by the California-based trio before, I bought their latest album on a whim in the midst of a CD shopping binge. Specter At The Feast turned out to be a decent purchase, but nothing that should keep anyone’s attention for too long. Based on the tracks I had known before (and the group’s name), I expected most songs to be loud, edgy and catchy. However, the majority of the tracks on their sixth studio effort are long and dreary, and these, surprisingly, are the more successful songs.

There is meaning behind the excessive gloominess on Specter At The Feast. This album is BRMC’s first since the death of singer Robert Levon Been’s father, Michael Been, frontman of The Call. The band’s grief and mourning is prominent throughout, which yields some notable mellow and echoic ballads such as “Returning” and the eight-and-a-half-minute “Lose Yourself.” The most obvious tribute on the album, however, is track two: a cover of The Call’s “Let The Day Begin.”

Consequently, the ballads on Specter At The Feast are the standouts and the more upbeat songs just don’t quite belong. The heavier tracks are filled with repetitive lyrics, which is a fault that artists can sometimes get away with, but not this extensively. One atypical song that is catchy enough to make up for this flaw is “Hate The Taste,” but its successor, “Rival,” just doesn’t cut it. The heavier songs that entirely prove the superiority of the ballads, though, are “Teenage Disease” and “Sell It.” Both are simply trying too hard, the former with its screaming vocals and the latter with its excessive guitar riffs. The only real gem of a song on the entire album is “Lullaby.” Here, the gentle guitar offsets the deep lyrics to prevent it from becoming too depressing. “Lullaby” represents the balance that the album lacks as a whole.

Specter At The Feast, with the exception of a few tracks, is an album that becomes more mediocre with every listen, and its uneven balance of loud and gloomy songs works entirely against its favor. With its somber classic rock feel, Specter At The Feast is probably best enjoyed lying in bed in the dark staring at the ceiling, but the stray heavier songs prevent total enjoyment in such conditions. Specter At The Feast serves well as background music, but ultimately cannot totally stand on its own.

Recommended Tracks: Lullaby, Returning, Lose Yourself, Hate The Taste

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