There has always been something of a primordial quality about Archie Bronson Outfit, whether it’s in thestomach-churning rawness of their garage-rock inspired sound, the bubbling sexual undertones of their lyrics, or perhaps simply in the facial hair that has been a permanent feature of the London band’s be-bearded existence since 2004’s debut Fur.
A decade has passed since their debut and, truth be told, Archie Bronson Outfit haven’t come a very long way. They haven’t stormed the charts, they haven’t moved to L.A., they haven’t made a dubstep album, they haven’t lost their hairiness, and they sound all the better for it. They may not have gained much but they haven’t lost much either as is evident on their latest record, Wild Crush, which still exudes that primitive drive to create seductively dirty alt-rock music.
What has changed is the personnel, the band recently replacing Dorian Hobday on bass with once ABO live collaborator and multi-instrumentalist, Kristian Robinson, AKA indie folktronica producer Capitol K (who sadly lacks in the beard department, but more than makes up for it in the quality of his eyebrows). There is also a return for long-time collaborator Duke Garwood on baritone sax. On Wild Crush, we find Archie Bronson Outfit de-cluttering the garage rock, tidying up all the noise and clearing a space for an emergent and ferocious rhythm section.
Previous albums – 2006’s Derdang, Derdang and 2010’s Coconut – both received their fair share of critical acclaim and the latter dabbled speculatively with brass, synths and bongos to force-fuse a sort of tropical funk sensibility with their original bluesy-rock sound. On Wild Crush, the band incorporate those before tested experimental elements with a much more focussed and deliberated approach, making filthy-funk their own.
Opening track “Two Doves on a Lake” kicks the album off with a hurtling guitar riff dispensed in moreish doses while a cantering bass line and drum beat drive the song into a midway psychedelic saxophone meltdown, something that is prone to happen throughout Wild Crush. But these little collapses into noisy cataclysms are never overpowering and they are balanced out by top notch musicianship. On the record’s leading single “We Are Floating”, the band display their expert knack for laying down catchy hooks offset with scratchy guitar licks and delicious bass progressions.
The album takes a wickedly jazzy turn on “Love To Pin You Down” as saxophones wheeze over Sam Windett’s sexually charged wails. Elsewhere on the slowly mournful “Lori From the Outer Reaches”, a synthesized organ beneath whining brass makes the fitting soundtrack as Windett laments for the return of the song’s titular character.
The tempo is turned up again for later tracks “Cluster Up & Hover”, “Sweat & Flow (Dreams)”, and “Hunch Your Body, Love Somebody”, the latter of which has an Iggy and The Stooges sense of friskiness about it and marks a fittingly premature climax before the album’s finisher, the jarringly wistful yet excellent “Country Miles”.
On Wild Crush, Archie Bronson Outfit deliver a record which feels as organic and honest as all of their previous releases, but it has a little something extra about it. The way they go about their music making has been evident for all to see for years now, but on Wild Crush the band have found that capacity to incorporate new sounds to the fore while remaining true to their original and natural sound.