At first I thought there was a disturbance in the Force. It didn’t seem like The Quireboys were releasing an album this year – having recorded one every year since 2013, it could have went either way. Yet, here we are with the latest, entitled Twisted Love.
Having reviewed every album by the self-styled gypsy rockers since Beautiful Curse, it seemed right to cover this one too, even if it feels like I’m re-treading old ground. And that’s mainly what the band has done since their 1990 debut. It’s no bad thing, they’ve built a career and a loyal fanbase from it, much like AC/DC have, just on a smaller scale.
There is a massive “but” hiding amongst the ten tracks. It’s called focus and chemistry. Boasting a line-up which has been in place since 2013, there’s no denying that it’s benefitting them massively, you can see it in their live shows too, something I noticed back in March. It’s strengthening them and allowing them to turn in some of their best songs since Beautiful Curse. Songs like “Stroll On” and “Shotgun Way” sound like they could have come from their early 90s efforts.
Meanwhile, tracks such as “Ghost Train” and “Breaking Rocks” sound much more akin to the more modern sensibilities of recent albums. But it still has that Quireboys sound rooted deep within its DNA. The tried and tested blueprint which has never failed for the band. The dual guitars of Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin complete with their backing vocals tie in neatly with Keith Weir’s keyboard melodies, really outdoing himself this time around. Title track “Twisted Love” also features blues powerhouse Lynne Jackaman on backing vocals, trading barbs with Spike, the sultriness lingering in the background yet notably obvious.
Then there’s “Gracie B”, originally from the previous, acoustic-driven album St Cecilia and the Gypsy Soul. It was given a full electric outing on their tour this year and it sounded massive. Re-worked based on that and included here, the standout of its original album, it’s been transformed into a new beast, even more dangerous than its original form.
Frontman Spike’s voice has noticeably weathered with age but it’s only gotten better in that time, his inimitable rasp has him attack his vocals with the energy of a vocalist half his age and better into the bargain! Meanwhile the engine room of Dave McCluskey on drums coupled with Nick Mailing’s bass has helped propel the band to a new level of quality, the years of playing and recording together is obvious, something you can only get with a regular line-up. There’s a deft hand involved for the pair of them, Dave’s drums especially featuring more prominently this time around due to the harder edge Spike had promised this time around.
As before, the band have produced the album with Martin Ekelund of Bonafide and once again, he’s managed to get the best out of them. Promising “no ballads” this time around seemed like a weird prospect for a band like The Quireboys, especially when some of their best songs fall into that category but at no point do you wish they’d drop a gear and include a sequel to “I Don’t Love You Anymore”. Their raucous singalong anthems are at the forefront and it’s easy to pick out which will be the live favourites.
There’s not a band more deserving of their renaissance than The Quireboys. Constantly putting out brilliant albums, relentless touring and a band you can never accuse of turning in a bad performance, you’ll be hard-pushed to find a band to beat their consistency. With this being the fourth album in as many years and the quality never dropping, I’m sure I’ll be raving about next year’s at some point!