Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Album Review :: RADKEY - Dark Black Makeup


Dark Black Makeup

August 21 2015 (Strange Loop Records)


Words: Richard O’Hagan

The Radke brothers have been around for a little while now, so it is something of a surprise that they have only just got around to releasing this, their Ross Orton (Drenge, MIA, Arctic Monkeys) produced debut album. Whilst ‘Dark Black Makeup’ lacks something of the power of the band’s live shows, it also carries a subtlety that those shows have sometimes lacked.

Kicking off with the title track, Sol, Isaiah and Dee take the listener through thirteen tracks of relentless riffing and portentous drumming without ever falling into the trap of being repetitive or boring.

There are traps for the unwary listener, though. Anyone expecting a band from the remoter part of Missouri to be just another provincial kind of Kings of Leon copy (and, frankly, we didn’t need the first one) is in for a surprise. Whilst Isaiah's vocals do at times have a bluesy twang to them, the overall sound has much more in common with the likes of Mudhoney and – unoriginal though it may be to mention it – Bad Brains than traditional southern r’n’b. Indeed, even on the poppier numbers, such as ‘Hunger Pain’, the band head for Foo Fighters territory rather than anything else.

The most surprising thing about ‘Dark Black Makeup’ though, is how mature it all sounds. If there is an overwhelming feeling to the album, it is of disappointment, not anger or regret. Standout track ‘Parade It’ has a repeated refrain of "Your love has really got me down", whilst the chorus to ‘Song of Solomon’ features the even more brutal "I’m giving up, you’re a letdown dropout".

Fortunately, Radkey do none of those things and instead have produced one of the best records of the year.

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