Brit pub rock veterans The Quireboys are back with a new album, and, according to comments coming out of Camp Quireboy prior to release we’re to expect their broadest, most ambitious album yet. I’m worried. Is the world ready for the first prog-pub rock album? It’s doubtful.
However, after living with the album for a while I’m pleased to report that Amazing Disgrace is nothing of the sort. For those of you that still remember the days when this band toured the UK with a fully-functioning pub as part of their stage setup, it’s very much business as usual. Hallelujah!
The first couple of tracks do sound bigger and more sparkly than some of the band’s more recent, darker output; Massed ranks of gospelly backing singers stand on hand to bolster singer Spike’s wounded rasp, giving the music a joyous, bawdy house glamour that’s an actual hark back to the band’s glory days as opposed to a brave leap forward. Guitarists Paul Guerin and Guy Griffin are now fully locked in to a full time Richards–Wood relationship, and Keith Weir’s organ work can only really be described as McClaganesque, meaning that when the band fire on all cylinders, as they do on single Seven Deadly Sins, you’ll be propelled headlong back to the early seventies whether you like it or not. Luckily for the band, most of us seem to be quite okay with this state of affairs.
The title track is perhaps where best to see the band stretching their creative wings a tad; Shifting the timescale from the seventies to the eighties, the bend meld the spangly, chiming guitars of The Cult circa the Love album with the paisley punk song writing smarts of bands like The Rain Parade or The Long Ryders to create a strangely jaunty slice of cod-psychedelic Americana that’s as effective as it is surprising.
The aching melancholy of Eve of the Summertime is perhaps more representative of where the band are in 2019, a careworn anthem that long term fans will take to immediately, whilst the strut of California Blues is something of a stormer that really does reawaken memories of the band in best Heartbreaker mode, as does the hard-to-resist rocker Slave Number One.
Elsewhere the band explore the country comforts of This Is It with a cheeky wink to Rod the Mod, Spike’s ragged croak bringing a nostalgic tear to the eye, the air heavy with the promise of mandolins on the wind and gasoline in the alleys. If you see what I mean.
At the end of the day, The Quireboys do what they do from the heart and there aren’t many to match them when they bring their A-game, as they undoubtedly have here. And if this isn’t quite the sweepingly ambitious statement that the band would have you think, it’s undeniably one of the band’s most fully-realised and satisfying releases to date; A band as comfortable in it’s own skin as The Quireboys would be foolish to veer too far from the path, and whilst there’s enough variation here to satisfy the artist’s creative urge, there’s also more than enough of the good (read: old fashioned) stuff to keep the rest of us happy. Brilliant stuff.
Amazing Disgrace is out on April 5th.