The dark side of a riff.
A turbo fruit is (obviously) a really fast fruit, but in the plural the Turbo Fruits are an American garage band from Nashville, with a reputation for notoriously wild live shows and frenetic rock songs about girls, drugs and frying their brains. No Control is their fourth album (the last was 2012’s Butter) and going on its’ strong content, suggests this band should not be dismissed as a bunch of wide-eyed, useless stoners.
Todd Snider, with whom the band have recently recorded a single (“Why Can’t We Be Friends”) and supported on tour, has said that the Turbo Fruits are one of his favorite rock bands, and you can see why, as No Control has moments of brilliance. Much of the lyrical content focuses on relationships going down the tubes, but surprisingly this is not a depressing record because anger, heartbreak and trouble are turned into an energetic catharsis.
This is an album that fully “rocks out”, as if the music itself is both the cause and solution of all the angst; “Show Me Something Real” could be a grunge anthem, “The Way I Want You” (produced by the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney) sounds a little like the Kings of Leon at their most enthusiastic, and “Don’t Let Me Break Your Heart Again” has the angular and precise guitar tone of the Strokes.
That is not to say, however, that this is completely derivative music because overall No Control comes across as a cohesive and original piece of work. “Favourite Girl”, a frenetic flurry of fretting (both musically and psychologically), addresses the self-loathing achieved through being unfaithful (a habit not just confined to rock musicians). “Don’t Change” has a fantastic melodic chorus and is simply very good pop music with a dark arctic underside (together, the couple in the song almost become a semi-mythical mafia pair, as “you and me used to run this town”).
“Friends” is one of the more complex songs, both musically (with fuzzy guitar and layered backing vocals) and lyrically (addressing dependence and addictive behavior – “I got a problem that I can’t deal with/ all I want to do is take a sip”). It’s well delivered and the jaded, warped-out feel is close to some of Big Star’s output.
“Blow These Clouds” is the most melodically whimsical track on the album, but still has an edge when the crunching guitar arrives. “Worry About You” is ominously debauched despite the offer of being “tucked in” and treated right. “Big Brother” closes the album, and is the most down-beat, but this sequencing does make the point that this is ultimately an album about suffering, with vocalist/guitarist Jonas Stein imploring someone to take away his pain.
It could be argued that this is somewhat of a one dimensional album because the album is so thematically consistent. However, the music is engaging enough to be constantly stimulating, full of riffs, howls, hooks and melody. The band turn the trouble of being a very fast fruit into a full-on, true rock and roll experience; in this case one seems inescapable from the other, but isn’t that the essence of so many that came before? The Glimmer Twins, the Death Dwarf, a hundred and one self-destructing hedonistic music heroes with three chords, five girlfriends and a kilo of high grade pharmaceuticals. Oh yeah, it’s only rock and roll and those sweet clichés may envelop us, but they’ll kill you if you give them a chance.
Note: The deluxe edition comes with rolling papers.