Never a truer word has been written! The Press sheet that accompanied the latest album from Glasgow based, Highlands born LE RENO AMPS says:
‘A ‘lazy-Sunday’ reviewer’s worst nightmare, their song-writing has always been impossible to pigeonhole, being an unashamedly upbeat and melody-strewn rampage of aggressive guitar pop, with flecks of rockabilly, country, mariachi, blues and punk glittering through.
On ‘Appetite’ it’s comforting to see that they haven’t lost this aesthetic.’
I’ll vouch for that. ‘Appetite’ is probably one of the most varied albums you’re likely to hear this year. But far being a mish-mash of unrelated and random tracks, this collection of eleven songs fit together very tidily.
Opener, ‘This One’s Not Waiting,’ starts out in the same fashion as the overall impression created by the band’s last album – that of a Country & Western ilk. But that quickly changes as soon as the first chorus bursts forth and it morphs into a sort of geek-pop-punk thrash. You know – in the same sort of mood as The Lillingtons before they turned into Teenage Bottlerocket.
‘Bad Blood’ has a quiet, understated stomp about that combines with a catchy, infectious and attitude-tinged chorus to create a completely radio-friendly track that increases in depth and volume as it passes the halfway mark.
Contrast that with the dark and stern mood of ‘Never Be Alone.’ I don’t know whether to crap myself or laugh out loud with this one! It features some chillingly delivered vocals with a chorus that sounds like it’s being sung by a bunch of stern Russian sailors as make their way down the Volga!
‘Saturation Day’ bounces back with a Weezer-styled punk anthem before the tempo drops properly for the first time on the album with the sombre ‘Caledonian country’ track, ‘Sinners’ – which in spite of its potential for dreariness, actually retains the listener’s interest with the quiet harmonies and quiet rush of cymbals combining with slowly strummed dark, fuzzed-up guitar.
‘I’m Alive’ as you may expect from the title raises the tempo again. This is a vibrant, bouncy little track with a bit of a dig at Saturday night ‘wanna-be’ TV shows. ‘Cottonmouth Rock’ has a kind of galloping refrain, punctuated with slightly restrained, but frenzied no less, vocals and zippy guitar work.
‘Here is a box, a musical box, wound up and ready to play…’ Well, that’s ‘Weight (I Don’t Give Up On A Friend)’ that is. (Come on – you must have seen the opening to ‘Camberwick Green’ at some point in your life?!) The waves of sound on this one combine what sound like the traditional music-box chimes with the drama and regimented drums of a circus band. Very inspired – and different of course!
‘You Must Remember’ has a kind of country-punk sound to it, if you can imagine that, while ‘Stuck In Your Throat’ is probably the closest to a ‘traditional’ pop song as you’ll get from Le Reno Amps. It has a comforting familiar sound to it in places – at times almost Music Hall in nature, at others there is a somewhat Seventies Glam feel to the guitar. The vocals at times remind me of something, but I’m buggered as to what exactly.
Closing track is ‘Faded Star’ starts like a rather depressing Johnny Cash song, and although it builds to a rousing, crashing final minute and a half, still sounds like Johnny Cash – if he were to guest with some generic, lumbering Psych band. Class. (Actually, this track could have continued bulldozing its way through my head for a further minute or two, actually.)
So here you have it – ‘impossible to pigeonhole,’ right enough! The only thing about this variation is that without a regular pattern or theme to the music, some may find it harder to ‘get into.’ It may have to be ‘actively listened to’ for full appreciation to dawn.
But dawn it will – and it will light up your life!
(Released through Armellodie Records on 18th April 2011)