Garage-rock of the sometimes swampy, sometimes sappy variety.
Derdang Derdang is Archie Bronson Outfit's second album; it's the first I've heard of them, and all told, I'm glad I did. The album was recorded in Tennessee with Jacquire King (who also produced Kings of Leon), which explains the forefront-twang of Sam Windett's voice, though the sense is never country per se, or even alt-country. Sitting firmly in garage-rock of the sometimes swampy, sometimes sappy variety, ABO's sound will naturally be grouped with that of their Domino labelmates Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys. The basic attitude's the same: modern rock, laced with irony. But ABO seems like a harder-working band, less limelight-grabbing; they make more of their hooks, never throw them off half-way through a song. It takes a kind of cavalier attitude to stuff two songs into one -- the trick that made the first time you heard "Take Me Out" a revelation. Unfortunately, harder-working doesn't necessarily translate into better quality, and making the most of their hooks doesn't necessarily make them more memorable.
The album falls out fairly evenly between catchy little gems and more run-of-the-mill, refreshing but ultimately forgettable, garage rock -- the kind of songs you enjoy once or twice, but after a month don't really ever play. Some of the lesser tracks off Get Behind Me Satan are like that for me. And what keeps Derdang Derdang from reaching the heights of a blockbuster recording like one from the White Stripes is the lack of a really catchy single.
A couple tracks come close. "Kink" is as close as Archie Bronson Outfit comes to straight-out rock 'n' roll, with a massive ba-ba-da-ba-da arpeggio chorus, echoed in the flailing guitars. "Jab Jab", too, has a jauntiness that's irresistible -- combining Kaiser Chiefs' stuck-up strut with a rawer, less produced enthusiasm and a simple, catchy chorus. And "Cherry Lips", which kicks the album off, is a nicely effective build-to-chaos; Windett's voice wobbles with an unsteady vibrato, and pulls off the fake-out ending that Arctic Monkeys fail with their opening cut. Here it's more chaotic, less straight repetition.
But there's a little dip in quality in the middle portion of the disc. "Dead Funny" is all ubiquitous dance-rock drums and stupid lyrics ("I am a disco dancer / I'm going to dance for you"). "Modern Lovers" is worse, with the repeated stab at lyrical insight sounding more and more ridiculous each time, and the repetition itself not as effective as on first single "Dart For My Sweetheart". That upbeat number is echoed, acoustic-wise, as the album's reflective closer. The more upbeat version works better, because even in the more relaxed verses there's this lo-fi menace of explosion.
You can say for Archie Bronson Outfit that at least they're assured; and if their sophomore effort's not high-quality straight through, if they don't have the addictive hooks of their labelmates, it's ok, not all bands are created equal. What they do give us is raw, soul-inspired rock -- if you're in the right mood, nothing's quite as satisfying.
Archie Bronson Outfit - Dead Funny