In classic rock circles, the name The New Roses is probably one already ingratiated into the minds of its followers. But as is the way, sometimes bands can produce a number of albums before they make themselves known to you. And when they do, they have a solid grasp of who they are as a band which is where Nothing But Wild lands with me.
From the first play of their latest album, The New Roses present themselves as a slick, well-oiled machine of a band. That this is their fourth album isn’t a surprise for them to be this tight on record, the surprise comes when you discover they had three albums previously and never heard of them. So if you’re a newcomer, here’s a brief overview of their hard rock sound – imagine if Airbourne and H.E.A.T doused themselves in whisky and had a bar fight on the Sunset Strip.
The album swings from the grit of the former to the melody of the latter with ease while keeping it consistent. Indeed, it could have been just as easy for this to be a disjointed mess and where they manage to glue both extremes together is on the songs where both are blended together so those tracks representing each side feel more natural. For example opening track, “Soundtrack of My Life” sounds like Airbourne if they’d come from the western hemisphere. Meanwhile, “Heartache” takes its cues from those high energy Swedes. Elsewhere, the band do drift into very syrupy Bon Jovi-esque moments with acoustic guitars and more crooning than straight up gritty singing on “The Bullet”, “The Only Thing” and “Meet Me Halfway”. So depending on your Jovi stance, blast them loud or skip them/don’t add to your playlist.
But it’s when both come together that the band are at their strongest and the album is at its most engaging on numbers like “Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll”, “Unknown Territory” and its title track. As those two sides shouldn’t necessarily mix, The New Roses have stumbled upon a more unique shade of classic rock in the modern landscape. With the production polished to a high sheen, it’s not overly heavy-handed, allowing them to still present themselves in their rawest, truest form. As duelling riffs from Timmy Rough and Norman Bites weave around each other and encourage you to dust off that air guitar, Hardy’s bass rumbles alongside it and Urban Berz will ensure his drum work has you tapping your foot.
The album encourages multiple listens and rewards you for it with finding new things in every listen. However, whilst each song is as lean as can be, the album as a whole feels just a little too weighty and could benefit from being a couple of songs fewer. Sure, “Down By the River” may be full of lyrical clichés but are you even a rock band if you don’t have a song about such a situation. That aside, the band aren’t afraid to experiment on a track like “Give & Take” with them at their most bombastic, an undercurrent of doom and stoner tones lurking in the background, evoking memories of Black Spiders.
When all is said and done, Nothing But Wild is a great listen, reflective of a band a number of albums deep into their career. The New Roses know what they are and there’s a feeling they’re making music for their own enjoyment; the fact others do is simply a bonus. Sure, the album could be a touch shorter but it never becomes a slog to reach the end. Indeed, for newcomers, this is a perfect listen whilst you hunt down the previous three albums.
Header image by Frank Dursthoff
Nothing But Wild is out now