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The Greenhornes
**** Julian Marszalek , December 1st, 2010 09:33

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This being one of those rare instances where a rhythm section is more famous than the band from whence they came, there's a temptation to read more into the lyrics contained here than is strictly necessary. ** is The Greenhornes' first album since 2002's Dual Mono and with drummer Patrick Keeler and bassist Jack Lawrence variously lending their skills to Loretta Lynn, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather during the interim years, it's difficult to shake the feeling that singer-guitarist Craig Fox harbours some frustration over the band's enforced hiatus when he sings on 'Underestimator', "I underestimated your effect on me… I spend my days waiting for you."

It's a red herring of course because, as evidenced by the first crashing chords of opener, 'Saying Goodbye', ** is fuelled by a sense of joy that can be created by only by musicians too happy to be back in a studio together. The band's cornerstones remain the valve amp power of The Who at their mid 60s peak, the scuzzed-up freakiness of The Pretty Things and any number of Nuggets-era garage rockers but there is enough of the trio's personality cutting through these twelve songs to ensure that this isn't simply a homage to a time gone by.

The Greenhorne's keen grasp of melody displays a pop sensibility that's wonderfully matched by instrumental dynamics that fray around the edges. Fuzzboxes aren't so much stomped as ground into the dirt like discarded cigarette butts on the coruscating 'Need Your Love' and 'Left The World Behind' but there are also moments of considered restraint that show a band proving that there's more to them than straight ahead ramalama. 'Better Off Without' is pure confection that belies that heartache at the centre of it as elsewhere 'Hard To Find' offers a measured comedown and sense of familiarity that's wonderfully reassuring.

The Greenhornes aren't making any wild claims at moving the musical agenda forward – they'll leave that to someone else. This is rock'n'roll that revels in basic charms and elemental thrills as it offers respite from the bullshit of the outside world. Which is as it should be.