Walking Papers grabbed my attention from their inception for one main reason: Duff McKagan on bass. As a massive fan of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver (alongside his self-titled band Loaded), an album which featured his bass talents would be something I’d happily give my time to. Except, when I listened to it, it wasn’t only for McKagan’s contribution. Grungy riffs loaded with blues and tinged with punk alongside drawling vocals, solid drumming and a sprinkling of keys for good measure – this was a great album by great musicians.
Naturally, fans wanted more and after extensive touring, another album was recorded. And it was just sort of… left at that. Mainly because McKagan had re-joined Guns N’ Roses – pointless to put out an album when one of the members is tied up with a behemoth band. So, it’s almost with surprise that I can actually say the new album from Walking Papers is finally here!
Has it been worth the wait? Certainly. As soon as opening number “My Luck Pushed Back” kicks in with its fuzzy guitar and McKagan’s thick bass line only to be joined by Jeff Angell’s grungy, I-just-got-up vocals, this is a very different Walking Papers. Whilst WP2 may sound similar sonically, now the foursome sound angry and it makes for an album which feels less meticulous.
It’s as dark as ever and Angell wants to tell listeners a story with his words with songs like “Death on the Lips”, “Red and White” and “This is How it Ends”. Painting grim scenes, his drawls and snarls are loaded with anger and pain. There’s a deliberate effort placed on the concept of there being more to some people than meets the eye, the truth and the shades of grey which lie in it with “I Know You’re Lying” and “Into the Truth”.
Meanwhile, “Hard to Look Away” evokes memories of the self-titled debut with its funky stomp and “Before You Arrived” is laced with enough venom to floor an elephant. And then there’s the sombre closer in “Right in Front of Me”. With its subtle bass and more of a focus on keys, guitar taking a total backseat, combined with Angell’s gravelly delivery, it sounds like a dirge as a fitting conclusion to a wildly varied album.
WP2 is the sort of album which only comes from bandmates touring and forging that camaraderie. It’s a set of established musicians upping their game as a unit to one-up every aspect of the debut. Walking Papers do that here and make it look easy, to add insult to injury. Developing their sound whilst sounding unmistakably like them, it’s an album which pushes them forward and made the wait worthwhile. Now here’s to the next album in another six years…
WP2 is out now.