Reef, Revelation - album review
A rock band from Glastonbury, it doesn't get more 'quintessentially English music' than that.
Yet their brand of alternative rock has always flirted teasingly with elements of country and the stoner rock of the American southern states.
Now, on their return record - their first since 2000's commercial success Getaway - gospel and religion seems to have taken hold.
It is so different to the kind of party floor rock that emanated through their mega hit Place Your Hands and from other top tunes like Naked and Come Back Brighter. Those lavishly licked riffs and spine thumping bass lines are at times gone, and keys and harmonies are in.
How I Got Over is straight from this world. It could have been slipped into the middle of Whoopi Goldberg comedy Sister Act and nobody would notice. Those growled vocals Gary Stringer is known for are nowhere to be seen.
Then there's the new single My Sweet Love starring guest vocalist Sheryl Crow. A back-and-forth duet with plodding country backing from the band make it sound light and almost shallow as a result. It's not up there with some of the better material on this album.
It veers dangerously close to 'dad rock' in these moments. And the sincere yet cool atmosphere of earlier Pearl Jam-like material is almost lost.
When they do err closer to those alt-rock roots this album really comes to life. The AC/DC approach to the title track will please rock and metal fans and will undoubtedly become a live favourite for the group. That rising riff throughout the verses is difficult not to strum along to.
They touch on a similar theme with Precious Metal. The passively aggressive intro doesn't let up much of the tension when the prominent yet delicate percussion of Dominic Greensmith kicks in and then we are treated to delicious guitars that fully bring us up to speed. it's a beauty of a song.
And Ball And Chain is up there too. A beautifully bluesy opening leads us into yet another slamming riff that reminds us that age is no barrier when it comes to rocking out.
The good outweighs the bad, but the conflicted feel at times stops a solidly good record being a must-have purchase.
Reef are currently taking part in the Britrock Must Be Destroyed tour and play alongside The Wildhearts and Terrorvision at Digbeth Arena tomorrow night