Ten years on from their debut, Apocalyptic Love, this high-end alliance of talent has forged an instantly recognisable brand of arena rock that, while at times predictable, has nonetheless evolved in subtle yet compelling ways. On 4 they play to their heaviest strengths, and with some very noticeable – and welcome – modifications.
For their latest, the band decamped to Nashville to record with producer Dave Cobb, who has produced some of country music’s biggest names. At Dave’s urging, the band recorded everything live, injecting the tracks with the freewheeling spontaneity of a gig. You can hear the payoff immediately on opener The River Is Rising, with its loose, punchy swagger and a blazing double-time breakdown that will cause more than a few spikes on the adrenaline meter.
At first blush, 4 feels back-loaded. After pushing through a gauntlet of mid-tempo rockers, Fill My World bursts through with a flourish of jangly pop hooks and an unapologetically earnest, anthemic chorus. The one-two bludgeoning of April Fool and Call Off The Dogs serve up all of the wind-whipping tempos and fist-in-the-air guitar heroics that you’d expect from Slash. The concluding Fall Back To Earth is a bluesy, reverb-drenched epic that builds to a feverish climax featuring one of the iconic guitarist’s most memorable solos and a cinematic, lighter-waving outro reminiscent of Hotel California.
Additional spins of the first half’s less immediate fare like Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Spirit Love and C’est La Vie reveal a trove of silvery melodies, insta-hummable verses and more piledriver grooves than one album should reasonably contain. Whatever Gets You By is the only track that fails to stick, but that simply speaks to the high quality of the songwriting elsewhere. 4 is an overwhelmingly strong and mature effort that sets the bar high for mainstream rock in 2022.
4 is out February 11 via Gibson