Is anyone else a massive hypocrite when it comes to their listening habits? You beg for something new to push the envelope of rock yet if a band pushes it too far, you reject it. Then when bands play it safe and churn out something that’s been done a million times before, you enjoy it because it’s like a comfort blanket… yet you reject that as well for being too samey. Just me?
Anyway, that’s where Greybeards come in with their new album. It’s hard rock as you’d expect it, nothing new on offer. Yet it’s bloody good and you can’t help but admire it. For the Wilder Minds is a grittier take on the sound, looking at AC/DC and Thin Lizzy for inspiration whilst adding in the modernity of Heaven’s Basement. That latter comparison comes mainly in the shape of Olle Westlund’s vocals – as if Aaron Buchanan had gargled on sandpaper-coated gravel and washed it down with motor oil.
Whilst they wear their influences unashamedly on their sleeves – and who would blame them? – they bend them not into something new entirely but something more modern with a good helping of melody to give the sounds a fresh coat of paint. “Fast Asleep” and “Insane” are loaded with venom before the halfway point of “Beautiful Things” hits and it takes a more indie turn. However, it works as a great breather and shows what else the band can turn out rather than your traditional high-octane hard rock.
Meanwhile “You Struck Me” takes a darker tone, easing up on the riffs, bringing in poppy melodies and one hell of a chorus. It’s here and the afore-mentioned “Beautiful Things” which shows off Westlund’s vocal abilities. As the album progresses, it’s these two tracks of shade balanced against the hard rock bright lights which make them stand out. If Greybeards fully leaned into those songs and made an album full of it, you’d be reaching for something by The Smiths to lighten the mood.
Between Westlund’s and Ingemar Mårtensson’s guitars, they blend your old-school hard rock sounds with the alternative and brighter sounds found on Foo Fighters’ more radio-friendly tunes. And with Simon Mojtahedi and Niklas Nironen taking the lead on tracks like “Peace of Mind”, there’s a solid confidence in the band’s engine room as well. Creating something akin to a dirge, it’s dark and symphonic (namely thanks to the strings by Maria Grönlund), whilst the first half of the album may seem like your typical hard rock fare, the band are keen to experiment whilst keeping it heavy.
For the Wilder Minds shows what Greybeards are capable of. Whilst it’s largely traditional hard rock produced to a high standard and is perfect to pump your fist or raise your horns to with a beer, there’s a range to keep them from becoming stale and one-dimensional.
For the Wilder Minds is released on 4th May