The Revivalists, "Take Good Care" (Loma Vista Recordings)
The New Orleans-based The Revivalists are back and bigger than ever — literally — with their fourth full-length album. They've recruited a new member — they're up to eight now, if you're counting — and offer a bumper crop of 14 new songs.
The first half of "Take Good Care" is mostly promising stuff, featuring the band's exciting mix of jazz-funk grooves, blues rock and warm melodies. The second half falls off a cliff. They should have quit when they were ahead.
For anyone not a die-hard RevHead, the jam-band octet made a name for themselves with the sweet and funky tune "Wish I Knew You," which found major success on the alternative charts in 2016 and last year. Rolling Stone magazine named them one of "10 Bands You Need to Know."
And for seven or so tracks on "Take Good Care," the Revivalists prove they might be the real deal, especially with the slow-burning opener "Otherside of Paradise," the euphoric "All My Friends" and the clever rocker "Change," all showing variety and expert musicianship. But by the time you get to the end, their sound has gotten flattened-out, generic and boring.
"Future" sounds like a lazy Strokes rip-off and "Some People Say" is a warmed-over Chris Stapleton song. "Celebration" and "When I'm With You" are sagging, needy songs that ape the E Street Band. There's inconsistency and tediousness all over the 14-track album. How did this happen?
One reason may be because, for the first time, the band handed over producing duties to three men: Andrew Dawson, Dave Bassett and Dave Cobb. At best, their fingerprints are all over the album. At worst, their fingers are all over the throat of the band.
Things get so bad that the final song is an utter embarrassment. "Shoot You Down," a soft, flabby plea against handguns ("I won't shoot you down/Can we for once just live with no guns?") that seems both cynical, passive and out of step with an album that has twice gleefully celebrated guns ("You can put them bullets in that gun" on "Oh No" and "Faster from a bullet from a gun" on "Change.")
It looks like this time the Revivalists didn't take the advice of their own title — "Take Good Care."
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits