These guys have had a nice long holiday, hiatus or whatever, but it sounds like they’ve recharged their source.
The Wallflowers’ latest CD is a darkly grooving album that’s beat heavy and funky.
Of course, Jakob Dylan’s gruff voice and free range lyrics spike the music with the requisite gun powder, but the band responds in kind with more wallop than usual.
If it’s a return to form, then they’ve nailed the formula.
Songs like One Headlight are easy descriptions of The Wallflowers’ sound – atmospheric, spooky rockers that linger on in memory. The Devil’s Waltz is a late-in-the-day update on that, but done dirtier. It’s as if the cemetery gates opened up onto a bayou lined with beckoning roadhouses.
The Wallflowers move on and call on the ghost of The Clash on Misfits and Lovers and Reboot the Mission with Clashman Mick Jones on vocals and guitar. Reboot sounds like a West London take on the Wallflowers vibe rock. Skanked up, they shine through.
The stomp is strong on Glad All Over and it makes a convincing case for taking time off. That is, if the time’s well spent.
The Wallflowers have returned with a need to sweat and rock the material. There are many moments of Wurlitzer-induced epiphanies (Love is a Country, Constellation Blues) where mood and groove dovetail with noticeable emphasis on the backbeat. It’s time to party and the lyrics are still interesting: “You can tell a few things about the soul of a town; From the blood of the men gone in the ground/Went milk to whisky to the courthouse sifting; With her stoned in her wedding gown”. On paper it many not rock, aurally it does.
–– Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who writes CD reviews for The Morning Star.