A lot of sturm und drang, and a few good songs.
Black Books is a rock band that would like to put the word “epic” back into descriptions of rock bands, as in, “Man, that song is epic!” or “That was an epic concert!” and so forth. Everything about the band’s sound is oversized: the booming drums, the bone-rattling bass, the anthemic, uber-sincere vocals. This is what a band sounds like when it badly wants to open for U2’s next arena tour.
It’s all okay I guess, but sometimes epic-ness just isn’t enough. You need melodies and hooks, stuff like that. Album opener “Favorite Place” has some of that mixed in with all the bombast, but with some tunes here, bombast is the main ingredient. Still, that’s better than the band’s attempts at changing things up: the introspective “Something to Remember” involves vocalist Ross Gilfillin doing his best Thom Yorke impression, to the benefit of nobody. Much better is the rolling “Take Take Take” and, even more so, “The Big Idea”, a moody tune heavy on brooding bass and snarky lyrics such as “If you’re not sunburned, you’re not having fun”. Such moments give hope that there is substance beneath all that melodrama, and maybe next time around, we’ll hear more of it.