Monday, 18 June 2018

Review: Reef - Revelation [4th May 2018 - earMusic Records]

Ah, Reef! You may be known to many for only Place Your Hands but to me you're one of the first bands I ever properly fell in love with. Because of that, I've eagerly awaited 18 years for this, the band's 5th studio album. 

The album's title track gets Revelation off to a promising start. That raw live sound the band are known for is still there but musically it feels too much like Free (of which their name is famously an anagram). Even with Gary Stringer's Somerset accent sneaking through as always, it's as if he's trying to sound more "classic rock" than ever before. Similarly, songs like Just Feel Love and Precious Metal conjure up strong Zepplin and Sabbath vibes. They are still catchy and groovy, acting as nice homages to their musical roots, but it's all just missing that Reef "grittiness" that initially grabbed my attention.

As well as classic rock, Reef also revisit their more bluesy side. When listening to country ballad My Sweet Love (featuring Sheryl Crow), the soulful Provide and their cover of gospel song How I Got Over one after the other, it makes you think if Revelation is in fact a born-again Christian album. The songs' uplifting nature fit with organs, choirs, enticing rhythms and beautiful melodies are thoroughly exciting. In particular, Provide is quite possibly one of the best songs on the record, whether being with intentional religious undertones or not. It's sort of like a follow up to Sweety from third album Rides...and I'm totally down with that! Like A Ship (Without A Sail) is similarly a gloriously joyful and epic ending to the record.

Revelation, as interesting a collection of songs as it is, is not quite the album fans like myself have been waiting for. It's more what you'd expect a new Black Crowes' album to sound like (which is not necessarily a bad thing). It might just be one of those records that needs a few more listens to really appreciate it. One positive note is that Reef have at least stuck to some form of rough blueprint throughout their discography. The songs on here even feel like they continue on from the previously unreleased songs on the 2003 Together compilation. There's no pointless experimentation into hip hop or edm to "get down with the kids". The classic rock, the gospel, the's all been there in some form of another, only now they've been brought further forward. Reef are simply a band who have matured and want to write songs they themselves would want to listen to. You got to admire that! 


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