Friday 5 June 2020

Tremendous - Relentless (2020)

Country: UK
Style: Glam Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 15 May 2020
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It's only been a couple of months since I heard the Beau Bowen debut and it blew me away with its throwback to the glam rock of the early seventies, not least David Bowie. Now here comes another British throwback to that era with another notable debut album. Tremendous, which is a ballsy name indeed for a young band (though they are conversely on Horrendous Records), sound totally different to Bowen but they'd make for a great double bill when gigs start back up again.

What's especially interesting to me here is that the list of influences that Tremendous channel isn't remotely confined to early seventies glam rock but that's what they end up sounding like. I'd bring up the Kinks first and most often, but with Mott the Hoople almost as often and others from Oasis to the Sex Pistols fleshing out a working class singer/songwriter sound. Everything here is short and down to earth, like glam rock as garage rock and with only two of ten songs on offer lasting past the three minute mark.

With most of the songs running only two minutes and change, as singles used to be back in the day, there's hardly any time to develop musically, so the band get down to business immediately and focus closely on the central hook. Every song is built around that vocal hook and I was almost surprised when a guitar solo showed up on Like Dreamers Do. There aren't too many of those on this album.

Opener Don't Leave Our Love (Open for Closing) is a fantastic example as it starts out with solo voice, then layers in a heck of a lot before the chorus hits only twenty-four seconds in. That's a grand and impressive ramp up for a first album and it highlights just how much sheer confidence this band has in spades. By comparison, Like Dreamers Do plays it quiet one time through, then builds as they run through again. "We dream of a million things, me and you, as we stare outside and dream like dreamers do," sings Mark Dudzinski, but as he has less than three minutes to play with, he really dreams of one verse twice, a quick solo and a repeating chorus until he's out of time.

These songs are so short that Rock 'n' Roll Satellite is the unusually long song here at a breath over four minutes. It starts out like Def Leppard but quickly shifts into the Lep's key influence, Mott the Hoople. Tremendous may only be a trio but they have enough swagger to sell this song gloriously. It seems surprising that only three musicians can create such a dense sound and that's never so obvious as on Bag of Nails, once we get past the first verse which is quintessential Oasis. Then the wall of sound kicks in and we wonder how anyone can play this quietly. It's raucous and it needs serious ampage.

By this point, only four songs in, I was sold by the music and how mature it all seemed. The downside is easily the lack of lyrics, the standard approach being to repeat one verse a couple of times and let the chorus dominate the rest of the time. It's unashamedly lo-fi and as ballsy as the band name, as if they knew that they could spend time to grow these songs, write a second or third verse here and there, add a guitar solo or three and show off a bit with some clever musicality, but they just couldn't be bothered, so instead they showed up to a studio, knocked out the core of ten songs in an hour and went down the pub for a pint while the label slapped a cover on their work.

I like this band and I like this album, which seems like an effortless slab of punchy garage glam anthems. Dudzinski displays almost no polish here as a singer, his deceptively soft Donovan meets Marc Bolan take on Hell is Only a Blessing Away the most obvious, but he's insanely effective and songwriters will be jealous of how he can turn anything into a solid hook. He's also the band's guitarist and, well, the same could be said there. If he's the heart of the band, then Ryan Jee and David Lee are its backbone, handling bass and drums respectively.

I'm fascinated to see where this band go on future albums. They could shift their sound a little heavier and turn into the next Killers or deepen their sound and go pretty much anywhere they want.

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