Now that some of the mystique has been stripped away and Uncle Acid and the deadbeats are a real live entity (after two sold out shows at the Garage), there is pressure on the band to stand entirely on it’s own merits. No longer able to present itself as a fantastic curio, Uncle Acid and the deadbeats are now a potentially more mundane proposition.”Mind Control” is the bands chance to break out of their mould as press darlings and hippest act to come out of Cambridge and really cement a place as a force on the alternative rock scene.
Although not an over-arching concept like soundtrack to horror movie that never was, “Blood Lust” , there is a definite theme and hints at narrative with repeated mention of mountains, deserts, mind control and cultish ceremonies. There is a barely concealed menace seeping from all these tracks that speak of imminent mass suicides and spiked fruit punch. The Jim Jones preview if you will. (Sorry).
From the off this album does feel more like a band effort as the instrumental passages stretch out on the slightly longer songs. It feels like a band jamming and finding its identity, settling into it’s grooves. Not everything has changed in this deadbeat world obviously. Structurally opener ‘Mt Abraxas’ is totally Black Sabbath, with doomy riffs and a jazzy, faster central passage.
The next two songs reveal a previously buried Queens of the Stone Age vibe of motorik, driving, desert rock . ‘Mind Crawler’ and ‘Poison Apple’ are both highlights and also display their much vaunted Beatles influence with psychedelic harmonies. Speaking of which, ‘Follow The Leader ‘ rides on a single fat chord repeated chant-like, with eastern flavoured acoustic guitars and the usual trippy slightly detached vocals on top. It’s like a sinister version of George Harrison with the flu.
The desert theme continues on ‘Desert Ceremony’ and ‘Death Valley Blues’ both are lysergic, woozy sunstroke induced visions and ‘Desert Ceremony’ features a wonderful Tony Iommi-esque solo. There is less evidence, however, of the glam and Crazy Horse influences of “Blood Lust” here. ‘Evil Love’ has a barn storming opening riff and guitar melodies you’ll hear on any Iron Maiden album. Despite the generally slow pace throughout there is slightly more modern, metal sound to the playing.
I have to say I find the closing two tracks ‘Valley of the Dolls’ and ‘Devil’s Work’ rather flimsy. Although full of the bands usual murky thumping menace, the songs themselves never really grab me and force me to submit to their evil ways. They are by no means bad, they just don’t allow the album to go out with a bang, more a creepy whisper.
At it’s best, the music of Uncle Acid and the deadbeats is like the darkest of chocolate, with a thrilling bitterness running through a gorgeous sweetness. All the ingredients are top notch, the band just have to keep an eye on the consistency.