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Album Review: Archie Bronson Outfit – “Coconut”

by Jonathan

If Archie Bronson Outfit’s 2006 album “Derdang Derdang” was born in some primordial swamp, clambering out of the steamy ooze with its insidiously dirty garage rock riffs, many of which remain lodged naggingly in our minds to this day, then new album “Coconut” was born on some electro-magnetic futuristic moonbase.

The news that DFA’s Tim Goldsworthy was to produce this long awaited follow up was an immediate cause for fascination, if only to see how he could blend his fine electro skills with ABO’s guitar heavy approach — and the results are a fascinating convergence of two schools of thought. That said, from the outset, the direction is clear, with “Magnetic Warrior” opening proceedings with a very typical ABO riff, but distorted way back in the mix while singer Sam Windett’s distinctive caterwauling sounding like it’s coming from a robotocized alter ego yelping at the bottom of a canyon. His delivery actually recalls a futuristic Talking Heads, but the gritty hypnoticism remains trademark Bronson.

The first half of the album is ebulliently strong. “Shark’s Tooth” is very much rock played through a DFA filter, resulting in the most unlikely of beasts, a rock ‘n’ roll dancefloor banger. It actually sounds like Joy Division crossed with Brakes’ “All Night Disco Party”. Nuts, but in a good way. “Hoola” is a wonder – an insistent danceable groove allied to maybe the strongest melody of the album. “Wild Strawberries” is familiarly classic Bronson territory, a full-on rock powerhouse. “Chunk” is a coolly hypnotic hipshaker, while the accompanying video features a guy dancing in various locations around the world, an appropriate response to the infectious (infected?) afrocentric guitar-funk of the song.

Huge credit to the Oxford three-piece for daring to take their sound off in a new direction, and they’ve undoubtedly created a work to be proud of on the appropriately titled “Coconut”. Its hard edges reveal bounties aplenty. At moments things don’t work out, but on the whole this manages to be both simple and challenging. As is their wont, the band occasionally sticks our ears close to the mangle to see how much we can take, or perhaps how low they can go. The furious anti-melody of “You Have a Right to a Mountain Life/One Up On Yourself” is a hedonistic headbanger of filth and fury. More surprising is the lovely banjo-infused pace-slower of “Hunt You Down”

How much longer the Bronsons can remain an underground success has to be open to debate, because on “Coconut” they have successfully re-invented the wheel and taken their sound to new worlds. Play it loud and play it proud, this Outfit’s new clothes fit them like a glove.

8.5/10

“Coconut” is released on 1 March 2010

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