PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Black Box Revelation: My Perception

The Belgian rockers arrive a tad late to the garage rock revival, but come bearing a bevy of scorching tunes.

Black Box Revelation

My Perception

US Release: 2012-06-12
UK Release: Import
Label: Merovee

Do fads have echo booms? Common thought would have the garage rock revival of the last decade dead and buried for some time now. Yet here comes Black Box Revelation, two infectiously enthusiastic childhood friends bearing twin fists of sludgy, dive-bar rhythm and blues reminiscent of once-breathlessly hyped, would-be rock ‘n’ roll saviors the Hives and Von Bondies. If nothing else, Jan Paternoster and Dries Van Dijck, the Belgian young guns that comprise Black Box Revelation, are certainly some of the biggest fans of vintage, grimy rock prowling the streets today. Going by their musical output alone, the boys live and breathe in labored gasps the sweat-stained, live-wire variety best exemplified by the Rolling Stones' legendary Exile on Main Street. They're a young outfit, and their exuberance for this particular strain of rock 'n' roll is evident on nearly every track of their third effort, My Perception.

There's a fine line between original music that reveals overt influences and shameless pastiche, and Black Box Revelation are tap dancing all over it. That's understandable, after all: A natural aspect of any artist's progression is replicating the music that speaks most indelibly to him or her. So My Perception then showcases a nascent band in a transitory state, searching for its own voice and borrowing Mick Jagger's to tide it over in the meantime. Which is not to say the songs on display here are uninspired or cheap knock-offs; there's enough blood and guts on the opening track alone to sate a whole hoard of ravenous vampires. "High on a Wire", cemented by a bluesy, pulsing riff that stops just short of lifting ZZ Top’s “La Grange” wholesale and dooming the lads to a lifetime of paying out royalties to Billy Gibbons, sets the tone for the following twelve tracks: a no-nonsense rocker with Paternoster's grizzled growl espousing perfunctory, self-aggrandizing lyrics. One could chalk up the innocuous lyrics and their afterthought-nature to the duo being native French speakers, but buried underneath the propulsive riffs and booming drums, it doesn’t really matter what they’re saying, so much as how.

What sets My Perception apart from its forebearers or even its early-aughts garage-rock revivalist-brethren like Jet and The White Stripes are the little touches here and there that serve to punch up their tunes -- the chirpy keyboard solo that spirals out of control on "High on a Wire", the bongo back-beat of the title track, the snotty whistling on “Good Swimmer”; these admittedly peripheral flourishes not only make their respective songs appreciably better, but they also display a certain degree of thoughtfulness and musical creativity that is otherwise not immediately evident.

The parade of white-knuckled rock songs comes to an abrupt end late in the disc, when the boys indulge their psychedelic predilections with a pair of plodding dirges, “2 Young Boys” and “Lonely Hearts”. If the vast majority of My Perception calls to mind golden-age Stones, these two missteps unfortunately reflect the infamous Their Satanic Majesties Request. Psychedelia is a difficult genre to dip one’s toes in; it presents a musical landscape fraught with plodding rhythms, indulgent excess, and a labyrinthine structure, with no clear end in sight when the going gets bad. When done right, it provides a mesmerizing auditory experience, but Black Box Revelation’s initial forays into the genre are marked by drudgery and a bleak outlook that seems incongruent with the rest of the band’s material. The best thing that can be said about these two tracks is that they serve to highlight just how good Black Box Revelation can be when the boys stick with what works. Thankfully, they do just at on the final track, “My Girl”, righting the ship as they lay on the howling guitars and guttural vocals to send the album out on a sweaty sea of sleaze.

It’s difficult to fault Black Box Revelation for so brazenly and shamelessly showcasing their influences, not when the riff-pinching is done so lovingly and the results are this thunderous. Make no mistake, these boys are good at what they do, and they truly, whole-heartedly fucking mean it. An older, burned-out band could take this same material, built around boozy grooves and sing-along melodies, and churn out a lifeless hunk of vinyl (Oasis’s detached, inert, and unintentionally ironically-named swan song, Dig Out Your Soul comes to mind), but Jan and Dries’s enthusiasm and vigor bolster their tunes. Songs that could have easily meandered and sputtered along, instead rollick with gleeful bombast. Although we’ve all heard these songs a thousand times before, even as recently as five years ago, when the seedy, barroom rock is done this well and pounds away so relentlessly, sometimes you’ve just got to smile and go along for the ride.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.