By The Scaramanga Six
The Morricones and their troupe have been turning out arrestingly theatrical rock for years now, but the arrival of this new record gives us a fresh excuse to immerse ourselves in their oeuvre. Some of the elements are aligned with rock and roll at its most overblown: screamed vocals, lightening quick fretboard runs, operatic harmonies borrowed from early Queen and lyrics incisive and knowingly inane by equal measure. Who else asks 'If you believe the lamb can lie beside the lion / Then you're only lyin' to yourself' (as they do in 'You Should Have Killed Me...') and expects you to carry on listening?
However, this is no festering collection of cliche. You will keep listening and, yes, you will enjoy the experience. Listening to a Scaramanga album is engaging throughout, thanks largely to the high level of musicianship. And the showmanship, meanwhile, never feels forced. It is also sufficiently restrained to allow such gems as the lushly arranged 'Another Coward' to retain a level of believable emotional intensity. The lyrics in general - crooned, shouted and sinisterly sneered out of this extensive collection of well crafted songs - are rarely less than erudite, even if sometimes self-consciously so.
A rock outfit lives and dies by its riffs, however, and this lot have a healthy dose to offer. Sometimes the inspiration is apparent, such as when album opener 'Hole in my Emotion' goes all Immigrant Song on us within the first minute. No problem, though; the guitars are tight, the drums intense, the arrangements typically quick to use any and all the other instruments that happened to be lying around and, for the most part, everything is nice and loud. The rock posturing is tremendously good fun and the sound is often that of a band enjoying themselves whilst blowing a hearty raspberry in the direction of anyone taking life too seriously.
So, there might be some silly stuff thrown into the mix, but it would be a radically different world in which the The Scaramanga Six were entirely straight faced for nearly an hour. After all, there's an awful lot of pomposity out there in need of a damn good puncturing. And in that regard these guys are unquestionably the dudes for the gig. This album may raise some smiles along the way but, far more than that, it never does anything less than rock out.