From the moment their debut album released, The Temperance Movement became an unstoppable force with several UK tours, each one playing to bigger rooms than the last, it was something, which in the modern age, doesn’t happen often. 2016’s White Bear showed the world this wasn’t a one-off. With the departure of a couple of founding members, and lead singer Phil Campbell battling his demons, they defied the odds and stronger than ever, A Deeper Cut is here.
This album is a declaration by the band. It’s a reminder of how great they are. Whilst they’ve never made the same album twice, the five-piece have stuck to their core sound and frankly, they’ve never sounded better than on this album. Full of swagger and mixing the bluesy/rootsy rock from the late sixties with the grungier tones of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and The Black Crowes, it’s their signature sound refined to perfection. The opening track is everything which makes The Temperance Movement. Scratching guitars mixing blues with dirty, grungy tones and a bouncy rhythm that will force you to move.
Having test-driven these songs on their recent UK tour which saw them return to clubs and of course, some were aired during their headlining set at Glasgow’s Tenement Trail, there’s a welcome familiarity. None more so than the cold open of “Backwater Zoo” which is immediately memorable with Campbell’s drawling delivery of “Baby, I would give you all the tea in China”. It’s one of the most upbeat moments of the album alongside openers “Caught in the Middle” and “Built-in Forgetter”. Those two songs show The Temperance Movement at their raucous best.
The juxtaposition of “Backwater Zoo” is perfect given it follows the title track. More stripped back and full of raw emotion in Campbell’s vocals, it’s their best ballad to date showing how they’ve matured as a band and as songwriters. It’s a moment recreated towards the end of the album with “Children” as Campbell’s voice is loaded with regret and self-loathing.
Elsewhere, the psychedelic “Beast Nation” brings in a funkier element with a light and airy chorus. And the staccato opening to the verses transforms the jagged sounds into something far smoother when it hits the chorus. Meanwhile “The Way it Was and the Way it Is” is anthemic with a chorus just begging for an audience to sing to the band with its bouncy melodies.
With guitarists Paul Sayer and Matt White (making his recording debut with the band) trading guitar licks with one another, they work well and make some incredible melodies, shifting back to the more retro sound The Temperance Movement built their reputation on, ripping out the indie leanings found on White Bear. There’s a lot of keyboard and acoustic moments as well to bring in a more varied and nuanced sound. “The Wonders We’ve Seen” shows them at their most vulnerable and intimate and it’s something which runs through the entire album, it’s a portrait of them laying themselves bare.
A Deeper Cut proves how consistent The Temperance Movement have been with their albums. Managing to reshape their sound to make it feel fresh yet unmistakably them, they’ve made their best album to date. Bending sounds of the past to make it feel modern to make some incredibly upbeat and honest songs, it’s the most real album I’ve heard in years.
A Deeper Cut is out now on [amazon text=CD&asin=B077397X3K], [amazon text=vinyl&asin=B076N7R2T2] and [amazon text=signed vinyl&asin=B076N9BRQL].