The tautly angular, bristly tunes on Archie Bronson Outfit’s breakout Derdang, Derdang were carried along by syncopated, albeit jerky, rhythms. On Coconut, the group softens the sharp edges and buffers the beats; the end result is like going from high contrast black-and-white to eye-popping Technicolor. Vocals are no longer sung in desperate, vein-straining gasps, but now exist as FX-drenched dollops of melody.
My first experience of the Archie Bronson Outfit was around two years ago in a packed and uncomfortably humid marquee, the elements raging around us in exactly the kind of manner you might expect given our location in the Black Mountains. It was a charged, enlivening performance, drawing on all that is murky and raw about rock music, effectively echoing the torrential downpour taking place outside in the process. Pity those that came by the tent looking for some kind of respite, for the brutal spell of ABO’s live show offered nothing of the sort.
This Wiltshire band submitted their sophomore album Derdang Derdang four years ago. That opus was saucy piece of slapstick lyrics, dirty disco, and bluesy garage rock. Born out of art school, their brand of music is something horn player Luke Garwood aptly referred to as “mellow trucker space jazz.” But however elusive the sound may be to categorize, the same motifs appear again on Coconut.
Archie Bronson Outfit's last album, Derdang Derdang, had a winning way with a tired genre, divesting psychedelic garage rock of all but its essentials: swaggering grooves, stabbing riffs, and gouging pop hooks. Aesthetic differences aside, songs like "Dart for My Sweetheart" and "Cherry Lips" were almost Spoon-like in their economy. And while ABO singer/guitarist Sam Windett's voice isn't conventionally pretty, he conveyed a rare emotional intensity, even danger.
"This is going to kick ass," you'll say to yourself after Magnetic Warrior, the first track of Archie Bronson Outfit's long-awaited follow-up to 2006's Derdang Derdang. If the English art-school psychedelic trio had been able to keep up that momentum, their third album would be a solid one. [rssbreak] Instead, they stumble and disappoint. Shark's Tooth trades frenzied saw sound for jarring disco, while the rest of the album shifts between psychedelia (You Have A Right To A Mountain Life/One Up On Yourself), monotonous drone (Bite It And Believe It) and new wave on Chunk, which carries DFA undertones thanks to production help from ex-DFA half Tim Goldsworthy.
Coconut’s acid-fried eclecticism lacks the brutish vigour of its predecessor. Alex Denney 2010 Imagine a metaphor in which toothpaste is equated with cultural relevance. The tube, emblazoned with the legend ‘blues-derived rock music’, has been scrunched ‘til it’s haemorrhaged at the sides, a thick crust obscuring the nozzle. More than 40 years after The Velvet Underground instigated $10 fines for members suspected of playing blues licks during rehearsal, the genre’s pop-cultural legacy seems to be terminally on the wane.