OK, so it’s not been the best of weeks. The rock world continued to mourn the death of Lemmy. Then David Bowie died. Then Alan Rickman died. Rain continued. Several of us broke our ‘dry January’ pledges. If we believed in that Blue Monday nonsense – just three days from today, and the most depressing day of the year “according to scientists” — we’d be taking cover.
What we need right now is something really good, new and rocky to start lifting us from this shitstorm of death and broken resolutions. Step forward, The Temperance Movement. Their 2013 debut was fantastic – bluesy classic rock’n’roll, packed with vim and vigour – and White Bear is similarly good. Better, in some ways, in that they sound less like The Black Crowes and more like The Temperance Movement.
Not that they’ve abandoned their roots; far from it. If we’re comparing it to their debut, White Bear is essentially a ‘more-of-the-same-but-better’ deal. The soulful gravel of Get Yourself Free and the like captures the same melodious charisma we loved in Only Friend, Midnight Black and co. Still rock’n’roll, in other words, with a fresh face and a few new tricks.
The difference is that they now sound like a band who’ve toured with the Rolling Stones, hung out with Mick and Keef, gained the Jimmy Page seal of approval and generally made friends in high places. The confidence is audible, but not too cocky, or to damaging effect.
It’s a record of accomplished contrasts. The hazy, atmospheric A Pleasant Peace I Feel provides a refreshing change of pace – you don’t even care that it doesn’t really ‘go anywhere’. Modern Massacre injects a sharp shot of gritty, good-time guts, and by Magnify they’re drawing different facets of their catalogue into one contemplative, sophisticated rock triumph (yes it’s a personal favourite).
In short, this is the sound of The Temperance Movement relaxing into their style and moving forward – and enjoying the process. All may not be totally well in the world, but pick up a copy of White Bear and you can pretend it is for 36 minutes or so.