White Monster  (and other songs)  – The Licks  (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

unnamedA wise man once said, “Fashions and fads are for fools and freeloaders.” Okay, it wasn’t a wise man, it was me, just now, I just made it up. But I stand by the sentiment. If you are a young band looking to make a name for yourself you can either take the obvious route and follow the pack and hope that somehow you manage to stand out in a sea of conformity or you can look for inspiration elsewhere. Elsewhere, in the case of The Licks, is back into a bluesier, rockier and sleazier, era, a time when music seemed to be made by sonic shamans, was tribal, even primal in essence, when gods named Morrison and Hendrix still walked amongst us.

White Monster is a sultry and slowly grooving tune, it struts where others rock, it slinks when less well crafted songs stomp, it links 60s free festivals with 90’s blues revivals and West Coast vibes with Ladbroke Grove squat gigs. It oozes riffs and pulses bass lines to voodoo beats. Twin Peaks therefore comes as a real change of pace, initially sitting between a pastoral piano ballad and spaced out experimental indie before strapping on the blues guitars and firing off Floyd-esque salvos into the night.

One Trick Pony is the sprint finish, and whilst many will chose old school references such as Cream or their modern offspring Royal Blood  to try to pin The Licks sound on this one, I find the rhythm, drive and the straight down the line blues progression put me in mind of the oft-overlooked Burning Tree. (Check out their debut album, its awesome)

The Licks are a breath of fresh air. Whilst many bands taking such a nostalgic route forward, most are exploring the same bluesy sonics and seem to miss the point, play it too straight, too clean. Now its possible that the rawness and garage rock vibe I’m loving here is as a result of available budget but I implore The Licks to never loose that edge. There is nothing worse than a band who, having being able to afford to get into a decent studio, proceeds to polish their sound beyond recognition. The Blues needs to be rough, raw, lived in, ragged and most of all sexy. As a wise man once said, “Why be smart when you can be sexy?”

Yes, that was one of mine again. Sorry.

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