Bristolian free thinkers do it their way
“We tried to go back to how we used to write songs at the start, when there was no chance of getting played on the radio. “But also, we tried to make it the strangest album we’ve ever made.”
“It’s not: ‘Let’s make it sound like this band.’ It’s: ‘Let’s make it sound like no band.”
Both those statements come from Turbowolf bass player Andy Ghosh. And if you know Turbowolf, then that means you should be afraid. Because already one of the most maverick bands in the UK have decided to dial it up to ten.
It also means that if you don’t know Turbowolf and you like your music to follow linear patterns of verse-chorus-verse-solo-chorus, then you should probably look elsewhere.
It is more nuanced than that, of course, because why Turbowolf have always been ace is that they understand that music can challenge, music can push boundaries and break rules without being a self-indulgent wank fest that is only interesting to those that make it.
It is just that other bands don’t think like Turbowolf. Indeed, another line sums up the band perfectly. On the shiny, glam stomper that opens this “No, No, No” the hook is wrapped around the thought “you don’t know what I don’t know” and then you think, “yeah but I don’t know what they actually know, either.”
Take “Radio X” (featuring Joe Talbot of fellow Bristol mavericks Idles) it merrily goes along in some punky, primal way, but can’t resist some strange synth grooves courtesy of frontman Chris Georgiadis (who’s flat this was recorded in – his neighbours must love him….)
“…Life” is an album with plenty of special guests. Sebastien Grainger of Death From Above 1979 is on “Cheap Magic” which is a heads down rocker until it does some wilful weirdness – but it is madness that sounds just right.
Chantal Brown of the equally mad Vodun is on “Very Bad” which is very good. An electro pulse, but with something lurking rather menacingly in the shadows, it is absolutely mighty, while throb of “Halfsecret” is like something Interpol might do, while the handclaps give it a happy feel, before something eerie happens in the chorus.
The last of the special guests is Mike Kerr. You may have heard of Royal Blood. He’s the singer. We jest of course, the bands go back a long way, and they trade lines brilliantly on “Domino” which has that Royal Blood crunch about it. But if Royal Blood are the arena dwellers than Turbowolf are the weird uncle telling the kids dirty jokes in the dressing room.
“Three Clues” has a real hip shaking bassy feel, and again the keyboards are to the fore, and the feel that the band belongs in some other dimension is shot right through “Up And Atom” which is surely the national anthem in some galaxy far, far away.
If you ever needed a crash course in how to make the mental seem sane, then I give you “Blackhole”. Seemingly four songs in one – at its heart beats some mighty punk rock and that will probably do.
The title track likewise. “The Free Life”- both the song and the album more generally – doesn’t happen if you stick to the rules – there’s an intro here so long you wonder if it’s an instrumental, while the concluding “Concluder” (helpfully named) is like the soundtrack to some Western that no one has ever seen. And if this town ain’t big enough for the both of us, that’s just fine because Turbowolf are happy on their own.
Turbowolf operate in a parallel universe. Frequently, listening to this record, you find yourself going: “that shouldn’t work. How have they made it work?” That’s been the case on their other two records too, but it is more pronounced here. “The Free Life is a dream” goes the chorus of the eponymous cut. It’s not here. It’s a reality. And thus “The Free Life” is a career high spot.
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