This et Al - Baby Machine
Reviewed by Andreas on 3rd January 2007
"Baby Machine" has been sat in my player for about a week and I'm still almost in two minds about it. Every time I'm about to decide it's not that great I get suckered back in. The quartet from Leeds haven't reinvented the wheel, but it's sure been given a damn good spin.
Vitriol and acid sputters as vocalist Wu half-shouts/asks if you "can speak European?" on the track of the same name. Riffs and drums and bass all battle for attention in a track that ticks in at less than three minutes, yet manages to go through more mood changes and interesting moments than a lot of bands do on an entire album.
"Wardens" was previously released as a rough-and-ready single, and has been given a revamp for the album. Slicker of sound and drenched in reverb at times, it should be like getting punched in the face, but falls just that little bit short when it comes to production values. It gets back up, though, as they shout about someone "marching to Moscow tomorrow" near the end. Glittering!
The one problem This et Al suffer is that someone has turned the guitars down in the places where they should destroy your ears. "Wardens" might be the easiest example, but the definite lack of the wall in the wall of guitars is a ghost that haunts the album. Mind you, with the volume turned to 11 (spot the lame Spinal Tap reference), "Sabbatical" becomes the monster it wants to be, and "You've driven for miles (and not remembered a thing)" turns into my favourite song.
The overall sound of "Baby Machine" is often drenched in reverb, and although this is done with a varying degree of success as far as the vocals are concerned, the guitars really benefit from it. This et Al have some glorious moments of true and complex delight, and these moments are all related to the guitar work. "He Shoots Presidents" and "Of National Importance" are both shining examples of this, and are a couple of the songs that have been going on repeat a fair few times here at rawkstar.net.
All in all, "Baby Machine" is a really exciting album. It doesn't feature a single dull moment, from opener "The Loveliest Alarm" through previous singles "Wardens", "Sabbatical", "He Shoots Presidents" and "You've driven..." to an ending that flows away in feedback. Their guns are always at the ready, bit of a shame about the production.
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