It’s fair to say that The Masonics’ new album, In Your Night of Dreams and Other Foreboding Pleasures, probably won’t be able to compete with this summer’s events (rioting on Britain’s streets, a horrendous massacre in Norway, and the release of the West Memphis Three) in terms of significance and public attention. But that’s not because it’s a bad record.
The band have their origins in the Medway beat scene, spearheaded by the fantastic Billy Childish (who played in rock ‘n roll revivalists Thee Milkshakes with The Masonics’ front man Mickey Hampshire and whose side project The Buff Medways’ Steady the Buffs is a great entry point into the movement), and have been releasing records for 20 years. Their sound has been dominated by the garage rock of the 1960s (e.g. the wonderful The Sonics), and In Your Night… isn’t a huge departure from those influences.
The cymbals hiss as if they were recorded in a beach hut made of wooden planks, the guitars are reverb-heavy, and the grooves are direct and simple. Opener ‘In Your Night of Dreams’’ muscular if repetitive chord riff recalls Kings of Leons’ ‘Red Morning Light, which is definitely a good thing, and ‘Gun-Diddy-I-Die’ is a rumbling, raw slab of garage punk which is instrumental save for the nursery-rhyme-like chorus.
The upbeat tracks are on a par with The Masonics’ best songs and the lyrics to the groovy ‘Obermann’ are fantastic (“Obermann standing in the morning mist / Obermann knows you’ve never been kissed / Obermann singing a horny song / Running around like a two-legged dog”). So it’s a shame that the slower songs aren’t really up to much. The waltzy croon (it sounds a bit like – shudder – Carl Barat in places) of ‘The Unknown’ falls flat due to lyrical platitudes and inconsequential ‘dadadada’ bits, and ‘Hurt By Someone’ tries to be intense yet only sounds cheesy.
But this is a band that has been around for a while, and, overall, they know what they’re doing. With ‘Put the Knife Down’ there is a drony, noisy instrumental lit up by organ stabs to switch things up, and the sunny twist of ‘Sorrows Lane’ would probably go down well with the lovable slackers in ‘Diner’. Uneven and low on diversity, In Your Night… might come across as incidental, but it is actually a lot of fun.