If you’re an AC/DC fan you won’t be disappointed…or surprised, for that matter. There’s a Geordie screaming, a chugging guitar rhythm and a lot of high-hat crashing…
It’s the exact tempo and temperament to create the image of a devilish looking muscle car roaring through a desert on a long straight road at the hands of Burt Reynolds. But that’s sort of the problem- this sort of thing happened in 1977 and it doesn’t anymore. There’s probably a housing estate on that particular bit of desert now; the car in question is probably above the residential legal noise limit and Burt Reynolds died two years ago. I won’t even get into what the V8 will be doing to the ozone layer.
My point being, however laboured, that it doesn’t really seem to have moved with the times. I know AC/DC have never really made any social commentary songs – their direct comparisons aren’t Joni Mitchell or Stormzy – but a slight adaptation to move with the times wouldn’t hurt too much.
The themes of an AC/DC album remain the same. It’s hardship, women and money. In that order. If they’re common issues for the band then I suppose that’s fair enough – I can’t argue with them pouring out their secrets as lyrical therapy but somehow I don’t think that’s the case. It feels more like a followed formula than a heart-pouring passion. The checklist of rock has plenty of ticks on it.
Saying all that – it’s not an awful album. As bands get older, they can have a tendency to get…well, worse. I heard The Waterboys’ new album a few weeks ago and I physically could not listen to more than six minutes without setting my own ears on fire, which suggested to me that they’d lost some of their charm. Power Up doesn’t quite make me want to do that but what might be equally as dangerous is that I generally find it quite boring. I’ve listened to the album through ‘til the end multiple times now, every single time it’s finished, Spotify has auto-played one of their back catalogue and it’s taken me a few minutes to notice.
There’s something to be said for a band having a recognisable sound I suppose. You hear The Rolling Stones and you immediately know who it is – that’s just good branding if nothing else – but there’s a fine line between having a sound and everything sounding the same. That’s essentially what I’ve been ranting about throughout the entirety of this review, so just read this bit if you like your opinions in 140 characters or less.
If I were going to cherry-pick a couple of best bits from Power Up I’d go with Shot in the Dark. The lyrics are a little bit questionable. “A shot in the dark beats a walk in the park” is hardly going to be winning any literary prizes but it’s got the essence of an AC/DC march with a little bluesy riff behind which is briefly satisfying.
Another positive of the album is the energy that it exudes. For pensioners, they can still make some noise and Brian Johnson’s new hearing breakthrough means that he will be joining the band again to perform live – COVID permitting, of course.
Basically, if you’re an AC/DC fan you will be overjoyed with the fact that the new album has the essence (and everything else) of what makes their sound and soon enough you shall be able to experience it live. It may not shock you to know that they’ve never really hit the spot musically for me but then that may be just because a long-time friend loves them so much he air-drums along to them and that’s just the sort of thing to put me off.
By Adam Baker
Feature Image Credit: Leidseplein Presse