vanderbuyst - at the crack of dawnAs soon as Jochem Jonkman delivers the priceless opening couplet of ‘A little make-up and a push up bra, high heels to make her legs look tall’ on the classily titled ‘Girl In Heat’, you pretty much know Dutch hard rockers Vanderbuyst aren’t exactly out to scale new heights of intellectual greatness.

And that’s fine; nobody goes to a Vanderbuyst gig for a lecture in quantum physics and like most of the songs on the first half of this, their fourth album, it’s a solid hard rock song, drawing influences from the Scorpions, Thin Lizzy and the less excessive end of eighties’ hair metal.

If the trio maintained such solidity for the duration, we’d be looking at a consistently strong, if not exactly inspiring album, but from the halfway point the quality dips quite noticeably with songs like ‘Light My Dynamite’ and ‘Walking On Tightrope’ being every bit as forgettable as their titles suggest they should be. Pub rock with knobs on anyone?

The last few years have seen a renaissance in classic rock, but the bands leading the charge – Rival Sons, California Breed and the Winery Dogs to name just three – have struck a perfect balance in paying homage to the past while still delivering music that sounds fresh, vibrant and forward-thinking. Vanderbuyst sound like a band playing catch-up.

“At The Crack Of Dawn” is honest and hearty, but it’s an album that wouldn’t have set the world on fire back in 1987, let alone 2014. File under average.

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