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Night Beats – Myth Of A Man

While Seattle rockers Night Beats may be known for their noisy garage rock, the fourth studio effort from the unstable lineup is lacking the energy and experimental flair of previous releases such as Who Sold My Generation (2016). Here, the band harks back to a more classic vein of blues and rock, drawing especially from The Doors, or The Rolling Stones. Expressive solos are strewn across the record, as are heartfelt expressions of lust and loss, but lacklustre production and constant appearances of session musicians unfortunately obscure these great moments on the album, and drain much of the life force from the album.

The vibrant acoustic guitars and clamouring tremolo of the opening cut “Her Cold Cold Heart”, along with its bouncing main riff, create a brooding atmosphere, made murkier by the slack tempo. The slow song consists of catchy chord progressions and a lovesick Danny Rajan Billingslev, depicting his situation in lines such as “I shiver when I see her”. Piano, organ and electric keyboard are all layered into the track, as well as a crackling and whining lead line throughout the chorus, forming an interesting and impressive mix of instruments. Tonally, comparisons could be made to the newest release from Arctic Monkeys, with dense but separated instrumentation and slightly filtered vocals seen on this track, and across the album. Overall, the opener has an organic feel through its RnB roots, but with much repetition and lack of energy, it would appear as though the outfit is merely going through the motions.

The following track “One Thing” is a relatively faster cut which consists of a heavily fuzzed out riff and three-chord progressions, immediately recalling The Black Keys. Some ambient guitar accompanies this riffing with some higher octaves adding a great deal of space to the thunderous tune. The classic/pop-rock temperament of the cut is displayed through the chirpy electric guitar in the back end of the verses, as well as the female backing vocals which add some ‘oomph’ into the chorus. “One thing, driving me crazy, one thing, nobody can save me,” Billingslev sings, reiterating the loved-up theme of the record. Some relatively hidden piano is revealed during the song’s fade out, over which a restrained and bend-laden guitar solo sees the track out.

The guitar riff in “Stand With Me” bares more than a little resemblance to that of “Layla” by Eric Clapton. The song really is quite formulaic and forgettable, with the track again fading out on a half-decent guitar solo. This fading out happens a fair few more times across Myth Of A Man, and simply feels lazy. It definitely would have been nice to see these sections finished, or added to, rather than squashed and silenced for whatever reason. While the introductory sitar riff of the next song “There She Goes” leaves a lot to be desired, the consistent, pounding drums and last leg of the track do somewhat redeem an otherwise forgettable track.

“(Am I Just) Wasting My Time” feels somewhat like a token 6/8 song for Myth Of A Man – at times reminiscent of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You”. However, the lush instrumentation manages to bring some life into the track, and the album as a whole. Fantastic basslines, a solid string section and the addition of a twinkling glockenspiel takes the song to quite a beautiful level, surprisingly. The song picks a good balance between orchestration and the rock nature of the album, resulting in a standout track. Typical of the album, love-centric lyrics such as “I want to see you, and I want to feel you” dominate the listening experience, but these themes fit the essence of the song well. Vocals soar on the chorus lines, backed by electric guitar and strings, but the track sadly does fade out, once again.

While the scuzzy “Eyes on Me” runs like an older Murlocs cut, the mellow “Footprints” employs softer acoustic guitars and piano, upon which some musings of human existence and conflict are laid down (“we’re all footprints in the sand”). The chorus of the cut sees the introduction of a remarkably memorable chord progression, certainly placing this track in the better half on the record. Some backing “ooh”’s and solos round out the track, leading us to a strange landscape filled with Spanish guitar on “I Wonder”. The cut takes strings and
 keys and mixes them with flamenco-like acoustic riffing, resulting in a questionable mix of genres in relation to the record, and a very out of place track. A tremolo heavy electric guitar solo does help to bring the song into the vibe of Myth Of A Man, but “I Wonder” still doesn’t necessarily work all that well. “I’ll be there, waiting in the rain,” the chorus goes, as one has to bite their tongue not to sing “I’ll be there, to love and comfort you” from The Four Tops’ 1966 hit “Reach Out, I’ll Be There”.

The great chord progression of “Too Young To Pray” brings the album to a close in a legitimately interesting way. String textures and sliding melodies, coupled with some classic “hey hey hey” lyricisms set the song apart from some of the more standard cuts heard previously. Some plucked violins in the second verse contribute to the full sound of the track, as do the additions of harmonised vocals throughout. While perhaps not an exciting or energetic way to round out the album, the songwriting does give the track plenty of memorable moments, feeding into a solid closer for Myth Of A Man.

All things considered, while much of Myth Of A Man shows potential, it genuinely feels as though the band is going through the motions. Some songs on the record showcase great rock riffs and are generally enjoyable, but the currently fractured state of the band could be possibly to blame for the uninspired moments seen throughout.

Myth of a Man is released Friday 18th January via Heavenly Recordings