Monday 25 February 2019

Electric Mary - Mother (2019)

Country: Australia
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 15 Feb 2019
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Like Razzmattazz, Electric Mary have an overt fondness for old AC/DC and the vocal style of Rusty Brown has quite a few similarities to that of Bon Scott. Just listen to the phrasing on Gimme Love and Hold Onto What You Got! Unlike Razzmattazz, however, they're nowhere near being clones and there's heck of a lot more to their sound than just those ever-influential early AC/DC albums.

In fact, it evolves throughout the album, though that bluesy rock base in the Bon Scott era AC/DC style never really goes away, even on the tracks that move the furthest into other sounds like It's Alright and Long Long Day, though it gets a lot easier to forget on the latter. There's a hypnotic repetitive riff on the opener, Gimme Love, that marks the differences from the very beginning, but it does get much more overt.

It's the vocals that are different on It's Alright. Brown goes for a modern approach in the verses that's all about the rhythm of the words, somewhat akin to rapping but laid back and still kept firmly in a rock style (and here I'm thinking the approach of say, Billy Joel, in We Didn't Start the Fire, rather than someone like Kid Rock). When the chorus shows up, though it's firmly in the singalong Slade style, which is an odd transition but a good one.

On Long Long Day, it's the music that's most different. This starts out as a slow and doomy song, more metal than hard rock for the first time on Mother. Brown aims for a laid back Robert Plant vocal style (solo-era not Zeppelin) that evolves into more of an Axl Rose as the track heats up and becomes more overt courtesy of the psychedelic echo.

Before we get to that pair, Electric Mary really mix up how they're choosing to interpret that AC/DC influence. Hold Onto What You Got has a Black Crowes kick to it, but that's a very Angus Young solo in the middle. How Do You Do It digs deeper into the blues textbook but there's that Noddy Holder feel to the chorus again. The Way You Make Me Feel reminds of fellow Australians, Jet. I heard some Guess Who in the short album ender, Woman.

Sorry Baby starts out very much like an AC/DC song in structure but with some completely different tones, so it has a nineties feel even before the vocals show up to emphasise it. From there, it sounds a little like Lynyrd Skynyrd attempting Pearl Jam, which is a bizarre concept but a surprisingly palatable one.

In fact, the whole album plays with quite a lot of different influences. The AC/DC nods merely leap out early and stay in mind, but there's a lot of other stuff here. What makes me pay attention here is that every song on the album sounds different to every other song on the album, but only Long Long Day has the feel of a departure from their core sound.

That Electric Mary manage this without sacrificing quality is a huge deal and it speaks not only to the musicianship, which is incredibly deceptively tight, but to the songwriting too. No wonder they've landed a supporting slot on a lot of big tours!

If there's a downside, it's its length. There are only eight tracks on offer here and, between them, they only just nudge over half an hour. A couple more would have been very welcome indeed, but I'm not going to complain about eight strong tracks just because I'd have liked ten.

This is Electric Mary's fourth studio album and their first in eight years. I haven't heard the first three, so I can't comment on how they've evolved, but clearly I need to pick up the others.

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