Of all the retro rock revivalists of the last few years (typically in thrall of early Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, among others) Graveyard are somewhat Godfather-esque figures. Before the likes of Blues Pills unleashed their party-like-it’s-1969 riches, these gentlemen of Gothenburg were reigniting the embers of yore – reminding us that we still want fresh reminders of psychedelia, Sabbath and the 60s-70s on a regular basis.
*Innocence & Decadence *builds on this inviting reputation, with bigger chops and colours that affirm them as key purveyors of nostalgic classic rock. Freeing, liberated jabs of the Stones work into Never Theirs To Sell, with vocalist Joakim acquiring a bit of Robert Plant mania on higher notes. Coatings of psych-doom sultrify the percussive likes of The Apple And The Tree, and cool dashes of Hendrix-y rhythm filter across the record. Really, the apparent influences here read like a who’s-who of classic rock legends.
So far so familiar. Yet the whole thing is imbued with the kind of va-va-voom that stops it getting* too* comfy (e.g. the pacey, increasingly tripped-out likes of From A Hole In The Wall). Because when it’s done well, retro rock really doesn’t have to be corny – more like an old church that’s been thoughtfully restored, with architectural newness in the right places.
And it’s not as if there isn’t variation either; it’s a veritable feast of rock history. Some tracks demand incense and squashy beanbags, while others call for stiff drinks and sweaty basement clubs. Far Too Close is all doom-fuzzed blues, *Can’t Walk Out *has an almost grungy energy to it, and Too Much Is Not Enough is an actual full-blown soul ballad – super sugar n’ schmaltz.
And then suddenly we’re at tender, soulful closer Stay For A Song – frenetic drums stripped away, in place of a lovelorn tune which dissolves into a low, ambient finish. An interesting, surprising end to a record that’s rather more sharp-eyed than you may think.