Album: Swanton Bombs – Mumbo Jumbo and Murder
Mumbo Jumbo and Murder
Having racked up some miles on the road with the likes of Los Campesinos! of late, the garage-rock two piece Swanton Bombs are a water-tight outfit and their second long player, Mumbo Jumbo and Murder, features twelve tracks of hard-riffing, blues-influenced rock outs.
Fuelled by Dominic McGuinness’s jagged guitar work (reminiscent of the recent surge in post-punk new wave-esque Brit bands), his Billy Brag-esque vocals and handy way with a hook, and cemented by Brendan Heaney’s thunderous drumming, the Swanton sound is simple yet distinctive and captured here clean and yet still raw. Uncluttered, direct, powerful and, such as with the album’s midpoint ‘Doom’ for example, quite moving too, Mumbo takes the Bombs’ template as laid down on their debut and tweaks it, adding some harmonious moments here and there to break up the instrumental-heavy, wall of guitars assault. Think a British White Stripes, with a spiky and not discernible cheeky sensibility, not to mention a drummer that can actually play.
Over the course of their sophomore offering there are peaks and troughs, though: ‘Doom’ highlights the fact that there may be a more diverse future for the band other than the jam-as-song approach, ‘Wasteland’ takes the blues influence and, after a helter skelter guitar intro, twists it into a stoner-rock fuzzfest that would make J Mascis’ ears bleed, and there are even hints that a pop-punk, radio-friendly crossover might not be that far off either. As for the troughs? They come not in dips in the duo’s energy or efforts, but rather their start-stop, fast-slow, clean-versus-effects-pedal approach lacks variation as the album progresses. They’re on the road again though this May and with the stage being the natural habitat for the duo’s undiluted, high-octane sound, you’d be a fool to miss them.
By Alasdair Morton
Mumbo Jumbo and Murder is out now via Quiff.