67 Special – The World Can Wait
It’s a good thing that 67 Special made the world wait. Having released two EPs in the last 12 months plus constant touring with the likes of The Black Keys and Stereophonics, they now come charging at us with their debut album The World Can Wait. The result is a wild collection of songs which will rock your world and take you to places you have probably been before, but maybe not on the same night.
Hailing from the same school of rock as the likes of Dallas Crane and The Casanovas, 67 Special have expanded on these guitar fundamentals and created their own style. The World Can Wait is an album which traverses genres and formats. Where one minute you thought you were listening to dirty rock’n’roll, the next you are heading to swampy blues territory and then back to blissful pop with a quick stopover in latino land. And not only is there diversity of songs, but format and structure is explored within songs and your assumptions are challenged. It is particularly impressive that this diversity does not cloud the direction of the album.
Starting strong with the title track, the band launch the album with a rockin’ instrumental. It is familiar territory but there are surprises. Notably the keys bring a distinctive quality and break up the guitar onslaught. Two minutes in, an animalistic growl signals the end of the track, and almost immediately we are thrown into Boys and Girls, the title track from the last EP. This highly energetic radio hit has all the elements in play. I am shakin’ my head, tapping my foot, singing the catchy lyrics (boys and girls and wah-ahh’s…so easy to be an expert). Following in a similar vein, Walking Away is the next song on the album and through the slightly slower pace and longer length, you can see the band playing around with structure, for example in the middle, there is a riff reminiscent of Pseudo Echo’s Funky Town, followed by a playful jazzy interchange of guitar and keys. This is cleverly constructed guitar pop and 67 Special have started the album off well.
Cotton Sheets takes a darker twist and vocalist Ash Santilla stretches his lyrics into an emphatic snarl and it is at this moment that I compare his delivery to Jason Stollsteimer from the Von Bondies. Crunching guitar riffs dominant this track, but again it is the organ sounds that give intensity to the overall tune. Often in rock music, keys are left too hidden in the background, so it is good to hear Louis Macklin’s talents given some prominence. Also featuring in this track are the sounds of a cello which add further colour to the mix.
Up next with the track Pretty Mess, we hit a wall of swirling guitars, danceable beats and alternating high pitched strumming which is so prominent in the new rock arena these days. This could be 67 Special’s take on bands like Bloc Party but with vocal distortion and ballsy rock at heart, they stand just outside that scene.
It is about here that we venture into further experimentation. 5 Degrees is essentially a hillbilly ska/punk track. It’s fast and fun and involves handclaps, tambourine, and electric guitar solos. Towards the end there is a singalong-type verse where Santilla seems to invite the listerner to join in. An appropriate drum roll ends the track but the experiment continues. Blood Red begins with wind chime tinkering and footsteps. It is a gritty Spanish fiesta complete with a Brazilian percussion instrument and deep vocals. Shame it’s a teaser at only one and a half mintues. But no fear as we now found ourselves intimately entertained in a blues cabaret bar with the song It’s It. Santilla’s smooth crooning is the focal point whilst the tambourine shakes, finger clicking and violin provide the smoky, sexy atmosphere. In typical blues mode, Santilla sings “I get my kicks from women and wine”.
Coming full circle, 67 Special finish the album with some rocking and growling and The World Can Wait ends. Special mention should also go the artwork and design of this album which sees an illuminated yet slightly apocalyptic cityscape at dusk adorn the front cover. There are no song lyrics but the pages are filled with gritty urban images such as a hopscotch setup, clothes drying on a fence, a clock, pedestrian traffic lights and a bed that’s been slept in. These are images from everyday life and they are reflective of the songs on the album which describe the mixed bag of daily human adventures.
The World Can Wait feels real and alive, and props go out to the band for producing such a confident debut album.