gallondrunk

It seems strange to say this about a band with influences as diverse as Gallon Drunk’s are, but their fans probably know what to expect from them at this point, twenty-five years on from their formation. Frontman James Johnston wasn’t chosen to be a touring Bad Seed for a few years for nothing; his band have mastered a similar sound to Nick Cave’s men, with dark, grinding guitars and growled, bluesy vocals providing a basic template to which all manner of eccentric instrumentation tends to be applied.

This eighth record is a decidedly mixed bag; epic opener ‘Before the Fire’ pitches the experimentation just right, a measured, increasingly stormy build-up giving way spectacularly to jazzy keyboards and triumphant trumpets. There’s similar instrumental choices contributing to the gloriously effortless strut of the title track, but ‘The Dumb Room’ sounds like present-day Pearl Jam and the hushed ‘Dust in the Light’ feels too restrained to justify its near-seven minute runtime. Disappointingly few surprises, then, for a band that don’t play by the rules, but there’s an irresistible self-confidence about the whole thing that’s undeniably striking.

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