REVIEWS: BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE - [ALBUM]
ARTIST: Brian Jonestown Massacre - [Album]
REVIEW BY: Bill Adams
LABEL: A. Records
LABEL: A. Records
At a certain age, a band must put down childish things and make a choice: they must decide if they're making music for their fans to enjoy or for their own personal creative fulfillment. This choice has been known to be the death of some bands, but making it one way or the other shouldn't necessarily cast positive or negative tones on the band; it really is just something they need to do in order to start making the music which best defines them and leaves that mark on history books. While they've certainly had a good time getting there (making good music, bizarre music, eerie music, drug-addled music, picking fights with The Dandy Warhols, moving to Europe), the fact is that Brian Jonestown Massacre reached that point in 2010; at that point, singer Anton Newcombe had moved to Europe and begun every culture he touched – and the resulting album (Who Killed Sgt. Pepper), reflected that larger view. The album was un-apologenically adventurous and, while it might have frightened off some fans, it left many waiting anxiously to see where the band would be headed next and what resolution they might offer for the new sounds they were toying with. The answer comes now in the form of Aufheben – an album which clearly seeks to resolve Anton Newcombe's musical wanderlust as it takes listeners onto all-new maps to discover all-new artistic thrills.
While Aufheben does recall some of the dronier aspects of BJM's early work (Methodrone – for example), the album exhibits growth too as it mixes those early sounds with a far more urbane, mature and worldly component similar to that articulated sense of style which figured heavily into Frank Zappa's later work. In effect, what listeners get is a perfectly accessible and enjoyable instrumental (for the most part – vocals don't play a significant role in Aufheben at all and, when they do appear, they're almost never in English) rock record; remarkably anthemic, but with no contrived poses struck. Some might say that such a record would be difficult to enjoy (if rock n' roll is supposed to be rebellious, instrumental rock offers no overt statement and so epitomizes the image of a rebel without a clue), but it proves to be very easy to get into here; the warm and scruffy guitars supplied by Newcombe and Matt Hollywood lay out panoramic expanses which will titillate listeners endlessly in songs like “I Want To Hold Your Other Hand,” “Face Down On The Moon,” “Stairway To The Best Party,” “Seven Kinds Of Wonderful” and “Blue Order New Monday” in spite of the fact that there are exactly no conventional pop hooks in any of them. Each of those songs is nothing but color and scenery, but they still make for a great ride. The only argument any listener could make against the quality of the record is that each of Aufheben's eleven songs is able to slide through too easily; the airy production and the absence of any burrs in the songs to catch listeners on make the songs as easy to forget as they are to listen to.
In saying that, the answer to the question of which choice Brian Jonestown Massacre has made is obvious: Aufheben is an album made by Brian Jonestown Massacre for the band's own creative satisfaction – not really for fans. That isn't to say fans can't enjoy it – there is plenty here to enjoy – but such an occasion is only a pleasant coincidence; not the primary goal.
Aufheben will be released on May 1, 2012 via A. Records. Pre-order it here on Amazon .