I’m no Kiss fan, but on the intro to the opening track, when Jan Boen’s voice brazenly breaks through a pugnacious, swaggering riff to announce that he was “raised on Deuce and Strutter”, it is one singularly throat grabbing moment of emotion. An awesome way to open an album.
The opening trio of tracks – ‘The Way I Am’, ‘Black Nickel’ and ‘Priscilla’ are sizzling, jaw dropping rock songs, drawing heavily from the past – recalling giants of the genre like Autograph and Cinderella – but colouring the music in with bright, bold, contemporary brushstrokes. ‘Priscilla’ particularly puts a fresh spin on an old blues riff…with the band paying their respect to Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon, while name checking the late Elvis’s ex.
Humbucker’s drummer, writer, producer, Geir Arne Dale sent the first couple of recorded tracks to the legendary Beau Hill for his advice. Hill loved the music so much that he ended up mixing the whole album.
It’s not an album for lovers of the perfectly turned rock song so much as those who prefer to be bombarded by hard rockin rifferama, like ’Paradise‘ – a blistering track, pinning you to your seat with pedal to the metal power. In fact the band crank up the electric guitars at every opportunity, firing broadsides of big, booming melodies and detonating beats at anything that gets in the way.
A Beatle-esque ballad, ‘There Will Never Be‘ therefore comes as respite. It’s largely acoustic and feels a little shoehorned in at this stage, but it has an intimacy that flies in the face of the previous tracks – a tranquil, and clearly very personal, listening opportunity with a universal sentiment.
The second half of the album doesn’t quite maintain the momentum gained by those first five tracks, with genuinely fresh ideas running a little thin. That said, the gritty ‘Doin My Job In A Rock’n’Roll’ band is a swaggeringly confident anthem, and the bandana clad ‘Dipstick Joe’ gleefully encapsulates the whole Glam/Hair/Hard Rock movement, briefly capturing the imagination of teenagers everywhere during the eighties.
Clearly, Humbucker have integrated lots of classic rock moves into their own singular style, and there are enough truly outstanding moments scattered around this debut’s strums and stomps to indicate a healthy future. Meantime, as the cliché goes, those first 3 tracks are worth the admission price alone.