Its been said by more than a few people that I can be a contrary old sod about music. I’m not about to deny that, as it’s a fact – by way of example, I present to you this little nugget: I really don’t like Led Zeppelin much. I DO, however, absolutely love loads of bands that sound rather a lot like them, right down to the stratospheric vocals. With that in mind, on to talking about the new Torche record…
‘The internet’ tells me that there’s no way this album can possibly be any good, as Juan Montoya is no longer a part of the band. Now, it’s true that Montoya’s guitar-playing brings a LOT to any band he’s involved with (see Floor and Cavity as well as the earlier Torche releases for evidence), but it conveniently ignores the fact that EVERY band is a product of all of its members. Three-quarters of the version of Torche that wrote and recorded Meanderthal are still very much in attendance, and the slight shift in the band’s makeup is in no way detrimental. Sure, things are a little different now but in a very very good way indeed.
Oh, that bit about contrariness? Well, Harmonicraft does a very neat thing, you see. It takes elements of bands I think are utter pap (at best!), whizzes them around in a blender and presents them in a fashion that’s left me frantically re-listening to a load of records again to re-evaluate them (I still don’t like those records very much, incidentally). Imagine, if you will, the result of Jane’s Addiction covering Foo Fighters songs using equipment borrowed from Cave In. Yeah, I know. Of course there’s more to it than that, but that fast and dirty comparison is what popped into my head on first listen and it just won’t go away – consider this a kind of textual exorcism. Steve Brooks’ vocals DO conjure the ghost of Perry Farrell at his most testosterone-laden throughout, the writing recalls Grohl and co. in its almost-brutal elegance and simplicity, and some of the tones on offer from the guitars (both four- and six-stringed alike) carry a hefty whiff of Methuen, Massachussetts’ finest export on their dense and spacey vibrations.
The best thing to do with Harmonicraft though, is put all thoughts of anyone else aside and just listen to the thing. It’s a gloriously bonkers, candy-coated dayglo sledgehammer of a record that does what only the very best music can do – it makes you feel bloody great! For all its vast swathe of disparate influences, its total mastery of the most essential basics of songwriting and the way it’s been so simply yet beautifully recorded, allied to booty-shaking grooves and some genuinely beautiful passages of swinging tripped-out bliss makes for a most intoxicating listen indeed.