By Marty Mulrooney
The Davey Brothers first came to my attention via the 2003 film Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life, with their infectious tune ‘Heart Go Faster’. Unfortunately, it seemed I was destined to never acquire a CD of their music to call my own: their elusive album, Monkey No. 9, was out of print everywhere. HMV couldn’t acquire it for me, neither could Virgin Megastore. I even ordered it off several Amazon sellers, yet time and time again there was some issue along the way and it never arrived. I had given up all hope… until now. Seven years later, The Davey Brothers have sent me a copy of their debut (?!) album for review, with an interview to follow. Ladies and gentlemen, it was truly worth the wait.
What a crying shame then that some of the most infectious musical nirvana known to modern man, namely this highly ironic Brit-pop-rock-blues explosion of the highest order, has taken this long to emit from our CD players. It has been getting screeched out by Jesse Davey’s guitar, complemented perfectly by his brother Robin’s cheeky vocals, for years. Why weren’t more people listening?!
It is not for a lack of talent, I can assure you. Robin and Jesse were founding members of the British blues band The Hoax, who were inductees into the British Blues Connection Hall Of Fame in 1998, after picking up five consecutive British Blues Awards along the way. Robin is also a documentary filmmaker (his debut The Canary Effect won the Stanley Kubrick Award for Bold and Innovative Film Making), director (he has directed a number of music videos) and photographer. His band The Bastard Fairies became an internet phenomenon on YouTube. Meanwhile, Jesse has directed feature projects for Interscope Records as well as big budget music videos for artists such as Papa Roach. Yet I would still say that the duo are at their most potent when rocking out together as The Davey Brothers.
You tease me and squeeze me
You say that you need me
I don’t know if what you do
Is only there to please me
You push me and pull me
You’re trying to fool me
I don’t know if just my name
Is all you got to call me
I don’t know if the tales you tell are lies
(Track 1 – Lies)
The opening song of ‘Wolfbox’ warbles to life with some wonderfully tangible guitar riffs, before making way for Robin’s delightfully energetic vocals. This formula is adhered to throughout the track list to great effect: this is a bright, fresh-sounding album that isn’t afraid to jump between songs of reassuring optimism (‘Sunshine Day’) and disparaging despair (‘Baby Please’, featuring Katy Perry on backing vocals), all tied together with some of the best vocal/guitar work I have heard in years.
Chicken Bone is the true oddity of the album, a catchy song that non-the-less is about choking on a chicken bone. They shouldn’t have gotten away with it, but they do because they treat every other aspect of the song deadly serious. Later, they cover Jimmy Reed’s classic ‘Baby What You Want Me To Do’ (also famously covered by Elvis Presley) in a way that makes it sound like it was written only yesterday, specifically for them. Genius.
I know what you’ve been going through
I know what you’ve been trying to prove
I know how you’ve needed something new
All your life
I could make your heart go faster
I could make it last forever
(Track 4 – Heart Go Faster)
Elsewhere, ‘Girl Is Mine’ evokes the best of the Rolling Stones, whereas ‘She Bird’ is reminiscent of The Beatles at their most cut-back and reserved. Not every track shines as brightly as the next, yet even relatively safe-bets such as the aforementioned Hearts Go Faster (the best thing about the most recent Tomb Raider film) are a cut-above most of the dredge polluting the British radio waves at the moment. In fact, Hearts Go Faster may be their most marketable sound, but why should that be counted as a negative anyway? It’s still a cracking tune and it certainly did its job all those years ago: I wouldn’t be reviewing ‘Wolfbox’ today otherwise would I?
The only fault I’ve found (other than the rare weak track) is that it does reuse some of the duo’s older material, although as they are calling ‘Wolfbox’ their debut album after seven years, I guess this is a small complaint. Furthermore, I would have hated not to have had every single song on this disk present and correct: it runs smoothly from beginning to end, one long musical mash-up of blistering guitar and searing vocals. This is a great reboot of a phenomenal band. The Davey Brothers are back: let’s hope they are here to stay this time.
9.5 OUT OF 10