Already two years on from their eponymous debut, The Temperance Movement have since been hitting the road hard, bringing their bluesy swagger to a massive audience on two tours supporting The Rolling Stones at the rock legends’ request. Their appearance on the scene back in 2013 prompted comparisons to AC/DC, The Black Crowes and Creedence Clearwater Revival, so will album number two see them make a radical departure from such unabashed classic rock roots?
In short, not drastically so. White Bear is a punchy 10-track collection with its feet largely planted in blues-drenched rock’n’roll, but that’s not to say there aren’t some new wrinkles along the way. Opening track and lead-off single 3 Bulleits is a strident callback to that first record, with an insistent riff, lithe slide guitar and a swift reminder why Phil Campbell has garnered a reputation as one of the best singers on the rock scene. Never a band to shy away from a chant-friendly chorus, you can already hear it being bellowed by the crowd on their forthcoming tour.
Get Yourself Free is similarly raucous, albeit hinging on a funk-infused guitar line during the verse that lends a little light and shade. However, A Pleasant Peace I Feel is where the record takes a significant detour. There’s more than a hint of 60s psych-rock here, the twin guitars of Luke Potashnick and Paul Sayer creating a dreamlike soundscape against the skittering rhythms of Nick Fyffe and Damon Wilson, and it brings the band into new sonic territory.
Modern Massacre and Battle Lines are as feisty and confrontational as their titles suggest, however, the latter particularly recalling the unrelenting machismo of Brian Johnson-era AC/DC. If there’s a standout track that highlights the progression of the band between albums and where their sound may venture, it’s undoubtedly Oh Lorraine. The ascending guitar line, layered vocal and hypnotic groove are reminiscent of The Stone Roses in their blissed-out prime, Fyffe’s lysergic bassline especially effective.
Conversely, the record closes on a downbeat note with I Hope I’m Not Losing My Mind. It’s notable that Campbell was an aspiring singer-songwriter prior to The Temperance Movement, releasing a promising solo album in 2007, before personal struggles derailed that career. Consequently, subdued tracks such as this carry emotional weight, as opposed to a rock band tacking on the obligatory ballad. Slightly less cohesive than their debut, then, but don’t let that put you off.