Wednesday, 12 December 2012

St Deluxe – ‘Born into Flame’

Take a pinch of 90s wistfulness, a spattering of hooky guitar riffs, a gentle dose of shoegaze and a healthy dollop of scuzz, and you have yourself the tantalising sophomore album of Glaswegian dynamos St Deluxe - ‘Born into Flame’.

In the two years since their initial introduction into the public consciousness, St Deluxe have exploded onto the scene with rip-roaring live performances heavy enough to turn your hair grey. Their self-titled debut album found them refining their indulgent brand of scuzz-rock, which was already hot on the tongues of well-known aficionados such as Alan McGee and Stuart Braithwaite. St Deluxe’s latest offering is a triumphant celebration of all their efforts to date, which has seen them evolve into unbridled commanders of fuzz laden power-pop.

'Born into Flame’ delivers much of what fans have come to expect from these boys, who above all certainly know how to write a blistering two-minute tune. An extra injection of raw, visceral energy however, is what separates this from St Deluxe circa 2010. Jamie Cameron’s primitive, guttural howl battles the feedback-heavy sound of Martin Kirwan’s Fender Jaguar with animalistic intensity, yet the lazy, fluid manner in which the 11 tracks tumble over each other gives this album a distinctly nostalgic touch. From the vehement caterwauling of Your Blood to the plaintive rhythm of I Know How You Feel, St Deluxe are here to fill the void in grunge music that has been idling since the early 90s.

With guitar work that bears more than a fleeting resemblance to that of scuzz-rock messiah J Mascis’, talk of St Deluxe being akin to a Scottish Dinosaur Jr. is not unwarranted. But the intrepid four-piece has carved its own niche in this particular scene, as this latest album lays testament to.

The opening track is a re-recorded version of old single After the Fire, which has been honed to meticulous perfection. Cameron’s signature nasal vocals are stronger, and the accompanying instruments, more streamlined and assertive. The result is so good that it actually makes this a stand-out track on the album, despite it not being new material.

The title track/first single follows up in much the same vein – incendiary fret-mangling quilted behind a wave of fuggy noise-rock staccato. There is a renewed sense of urgency in many of these latest tracks; everything about the band feels like it’s been turned up a notch since their debut – if there were any doubts as to what heights St Deluxe intend to reach in the future, this album surely slams it home.

'Born into Flame’ demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that St Deluxe are capable of cooking up a storm in the recording studio. The new sound is a more distilled, mature flavour than the Deluxe of old, but every bit as delectable as it was in the beginning. These master craftsmen are flying high and show no signs of slowing down – long may they continue.

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