Secret Meeting score: 68
by Phil Scarisbrick
The Brian Jonestown Massacre have become quite the enigma over their eighteen record career. Well, when I say The Brian Jonestown Massacre, what I really mean is front man, Anton Newcombe. After burning through bandmates over the years at a rate rivalling only the late Mark E. Smith, Newcombe has remained prolific in his output. Releasing four albums in the last five years, their latest – and 18th studio LP in all – comes just seven months after its predecessor.
Recorded at Cobra Studios in Berlin, the band’s new eponymous offering appears to be a distillation of everything we’ve come to expect from the band. Sixties psychedelia, the melodrama of the Velvet Underground, and a smattering My Bloody Valentine-esque shoegaze are all touched upon across the record’s nine tracks. Opener – Drained – is an acoustic driven stomp that canters along to a yarn about feeling lost. Tombes Oubilees features breathy vocals from Rike Biernert, is a definite highlight – transporting you right back to Andy Warhol’s Factory, and evoking the Velvet’s droning Femme Fatale.
My Mind is Filled With Stuff is a groove-laden instrumental that, again, evokes the same by-gone era with effortless fun, while Remember Me This is full of bright-sounding guitars, juxtaposing a Monkees-evoking soundtrack with Newcombe’s baritone rasp.
It is very hard to write a review about this band without mentioning the caricature of Anton Newcombe that was exposed to the world in a certain film. Thankfully, he has managed to exchange the drugs and frolics of that period for a more settled and musically-focussed approach. And despite some serious tones, he appears to have lost none of the fun. While this album lacks any real dynamic, its best moments are worth repeated spins. A timely reminder that the world is a better place with the enigmatic Brian Jonestown Massacre.