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The Temperance Movement
The Temperance Movement Rev Rachel Mann , September 13th, 2013 04:06

If rock & roll was a child she'd be endlessly caught between being told to be authentic ("No, honey, don't try and sing like you're from Memphis, you're from Goole...") and arty-farty archness ("I want just a tincture of koto here..."). Basically what Kate Rusby might have become if she'd been raised by Brian Eno. Thank Jebus, then, for this debut album from The Temperance Movement.

In an age of po-mo "Let's see what 60s surf music sounds like if Satan was in charge of vocals" or lo-fi obsessions with origins and authenticity, The Temperance Movement just get on and make a noise. And even if there have been numerous recent reboots of 'Let's Party Like Rod Stewart c1972', these Brit cock-rockers at least sound like their having fun. Rather like a bottle of Vat 69 whisky, they're unpretentious, not exactly what you'd serve your most demanding friends, but a quick way to one hell of a time. And, whatever my more discerning colleagues tell me, there is an atavistic part of all of us which wants to check out the smart-alec aesthetics for a night and fool around.

Let's get the obvious out of the way first. If you know your Sticky Fingers-era Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck Group or hanker after classic Faces material this is going to sound awfully familiar. Rather like some of those neo-Thrash bands rebooting 80s Bay Area chops, The Temperance Movement give the disconcerting impression of having melted down some classic vinyl and mainlined it before bedtime. Part of me suspects that several members of this band were orphaned as children and nursed for months at Ronnie Woods' man-breasts.

Essentially, TTM recognize that the fundamental blues-rock template is two-fold: either a) be unafraid to get your overdrive-ridden cahoonas out for all to see or b) take the mood down with a sensual bluesy ballad. Opener 'Only Friend' is emblematic of TTM in balls out mode – crunching tweed guitar and vocalist Phil Campbell singing like an atomic strength case of strep throat beating the living crap out of the local Lockets factory. Add to that lyrics of love and loss and hard times and you have compelling stuff.

If that is the entry point, closer 'Serenity' is the very acme of a sensual blues ballad. Campbell impresses as he sings, "Lord, may all my hard times be healing times... take out this broken heart renew my mind... tears wash my eyes to see how to love again" over echoplex guitar and slide wailing like a lonely wolf in the night. If The Temperance Movement keep their snakeskin boots in well trodden mesas, they are not just crotch-thrusting rockers. Like so many of the best rock songs Serenity balances the sexual and the sensual and it builds into a beast of a tune.

Along the way, you get the occasional by-numbers offering ('Midnight Black' and 'Lovers And Fighters') but TTM provide unexpected texture. Indeed, ironically for such a straightforward album, what I love are the details. Any chump with three chords, a pair of absurdly tight jeans and an overbearing fascination with bourbon can serve up tiresome pub blues, but these fellas know their stuff. Listen to 'Know For Sure' for choppy Chicago via Sarf Lahnden licks and 'Chinese Lanterns' for some delicious interplay between the Mick Taylor-styled slide and sweet vocals.

Sure, Glaswegian vocalist Campbell runs the risk of sounding obsessed with classic-era Rod Stewart and, yes, individual members of the band have been journeymen players for a while. All this adds to the impression of the theatric and burlesque. I don't think this is the band who are going to save rock & roll with hard luck stories and gritty tales, but then who is? Let's just get on and enjoy the (mostly) pitch-perfect riffage.