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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club:: Baby 81 (Album Review)

On 2005’s Howl, these LA-based bad boys dialed down the swirling Jesus and Mary Chain guitars that defined their first two albums and did a hard-edged folk-blues thing full of foot-stomping percussion and tent-revival twang. The result was intermittently thrilling but made you wonder why they’d done away with the sonic signature that endeared them to a sizable crowd of psych-rock nuts in the first place. Although suggesting that the trio are still fascinated by vintage American roots music, BRMC’s fourth full-length does bring back some of the old post-shoegaze texture. “Took Out a Loan” and “Lien on Your Dreams” layer riffs atop riffs, piling up sheets of six-string fuzz like (dirty) laundry in a basket; “Need Some Air” sports a death-disco bass line that imagines XTRMNTR-era Primal Scream covering Screamadelica-era Primal Scream. The songwriting isn’t BRMC’s most memorable, but Baby 81’s noise-roots fumes are pretty thick.