Rebels ride their choppers down the Middle of the Road
BRMC’s Howl, released in 2005, caught the band’s following by surprise.
A mostly acoustic, soulful mix of country, folk, gospel and blues, it was as far removed from the snarling intensity and over-amped guitars of the band’s first two albums as could be imagined. Baby 81
attempts to recapture the energy while retaining the soul. Neither fish nor fowl, it’s the sound of a band trying to play it both ways, and succeeding at neither. “Berlin” and “Weapon of Choice” are fine, anthemic arena rockers, but most of these songs plod on far too long, half-buoyed by faux-metal riffs, Peter Hayes’ and Robert Levon Been’s earnest but nondescript vocals and a batch of vaguely moral rawk lyrics about killing the light and needing some air. The set is lowlighted by the theoretically menacing but thoroughly unconvincing “666 Conducer.” It’s all as predictable and politely rocking as a Journey album. It will probably go gold. Don’t stop believin’, guys.