Overall Score: 5/10 Songwriting: 5/10 Vocals: 5/10 Performances: 5/10 Pros: Rollicking riffs | Whisky soaked rock and roll Cons: Drab | One Note | Unfulfilling
From the opening notes of Crobot’s Motherbrain, you get an instantaneous feel for what you are going to get. A whisky soaked, sour mash of a record, replete with dirty southern riffs and earnest vocals delivering what can only be described as by numbers lyrics. Though the lyrics are by numbers, they aren’t the focal point of the record, and as such don’t deserve lambasting as they are there more for the instrumental quality of the delivery, cadence and pronunciation than for any sort of profundity. Burn is a perfectly serviceable track; hulking, rolling riffs gyrate with swagger around the ear canal saturated by the influence of a single malt. This is rock and roll with emphasis on the rollicking, made for a good time and to party to.
The craft of the record is fairly unspectacular. The songs themselves follow the tried and tested template with which so many of Crobot’s ilk have made themselves beloved if not respected, but you can’t help but feel that their peers do so with much more verve. The songs feel like they are reaching for a vibrancy, attempting to be something scintillating, but they never quite achieve this and wallow in the depths of being perfectly suited for background music. The songs never fully absorb the listener, never are you held captivated by any moment on the album. This is not to say that the music is bad. The songwriting is adept if lacking flair, and there is a modicum of dynamism to what Crobot do: There is a definite variation in beats per minute between songs, and the variety of pace leads to the album not feeling totally one note, but rather variations on a theme. Musically you have to give credit to the hallowed power of the riff. Crobot have harnessed this power with the same expertise of the likes of Alter Bridge and Down, creating foot stomping, teeth gritting and air guitar worthy motifs that do a lot of the heavy lifting – if not all of it – for each song. In the absence of the riff we would have a downright poor album here.
The band claim that this is a musically darker and more grounded record than their prior works. This is true to an extent as there is a less fantastical element to Crobot on this fourth full length, but how realistic it gets is up for debate. Even the Dirt era Alice In Chains inspired Stoning The Devil, feels stock in its execution. Just another rock song in amongst other rock songs with only speed providing any variety. Tonally the album has a grit to it that does satisfy some of the band’s ambition, but in the end it all feels passé. There is very little to be said about this album, except for the fact that for fans of classically inclined rock and roll this will be a more than worthy addition to the collection. For anyone looking for something more than a riff and a disposable vocal line, look elsewhere.
Motherbrain, the new album from Crobot, is out now on Mascot Records.