The Black Angels - Indigo Meadow (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
THEY may only have been founded in 2004 but The Black Angels seem to exist in a bygone era of psychedelic rock previously occupied by the likes of The Doors, Led Zeppelin and bands of that ilk.
Fourth studio album Indigo Meadow is rife with the hallmarks of classic rock, complete with the dark lyrical themes that have become a hallmark for the band.
Now a quartet, the band – with the able support of producer John Congleton (David Byrne & St. Vincent, Clinic, Explosions In The Sky) – have attempted to bring new focus to their wide-ranging songcraft to offer a more expansive emotional trajectory.
And this is evident on the wide-ranging subject matter from love to guns via human nature and more.
Evil Things, for example, focuses on a man and a woman on opposite sides of a conflict who meet on a war-torn battlefield and come to the realisation that, by nature, humans have the capacity to be either evil or benevolent, empathetic and compassionate.
While Don’t Play With Guns features a female antagonist who has the power of persuasion over a man. Or, as singer Alex Maas elaborates: “Substitute the female antagonist with a nation, substitute the manipulated man with yourself. Heed the warning!”
That said, there is some light to offset the darkness. You’re Mine hints at a romanticism that is seldom apparent and drops some rollicking good guitar riffs to compliment the more upbeat vibe.
While Love Me Forever with its ’60s-inspired riffs and tripped out vocals is another of those ‘gorgeous’ moments that feel like a product of the peace and love movements of days gone by, albeit with a suddenly heavy chorus as if to remind fans of who they’re listening to.
Admittedly, there are times when some of the tracks become a little too psychedelic for their own good (and arguably too self-indulgent). The epic I Hear Colors being a prime example of a track that may well polarise opinion.
But when they hook it up and get things right, The Black Angels are downright compulsive. Evil Things, with its mighty riffs and thought-provoking lyrics, is an early highlight, as is the effortlessly hip Don’t Play With Guns.
While the hammond organs that accompany Holland offer a great variation on The Black Angels sound and Always Maybe has a more reined in vibe that provides a welcome change of pace from some of the more volatile tracks.
Album closer Black Isn’t Black, meanwhile, draws things to a close with a suitably dark, bluesy offering that is mired in more of the darkness that The Black Angels so confidently own.
Put together, this is a wonderfully retro collection that underlines this band’s position as undisputed avatars of contemporary psychedelic rock.
Download picks: Don’t Play With Guns, You’re Mine, Love Me Forever, Evil Things, Holland, Always Maybe, Black Isn’t Black