Having endured enough Bruce Springsteen comparisons to make the Hold Steady feel sorry for them, Marah makes a balls-out effort to shake things up on their sixth full-length release.
The good news for those who dream of being buried in Asbury Park is that these Brooklyn-via-Philadelphia dudes haven’t forgotten what got them here in the first place. The E Street Band would happily rubber-stamp “Wild West Love Song”, a chugging rocker spiked by Stax-soul saxophone. The Boss, meanwhile, wouldn’t find much that needs fixing in “Blue But Cool”, a roadhouse ballad where you can almost taste the unfiltered Marlboros and bar-brand bourbon.
But what proves Marah is just getting revved up rather than running out of ideas is the way that Angels Of Destruction is loaded with outside-of-the-rock-realm curveballs. Retro-jazz horn swells turn “Can’t Take It With You…” into something that sounds like the Replacements taking a lazy stab at ragtime. Tex-Mex accordion weaves its way through the incandescent pop of “Santos De Madera”. Straight-from-Scotland bagpipes cleave through the greasy R&B raver “Wilderness”.
If all that doesn’t impress you, then the swamp-boogie kickoff track “Coughing Up Blood” will, for no other reason than singer Dave Bielanko starts things off by pledging to “Empty my arms of all that pollutes me.” You don’t have to have an Asbury postal code to get the feeling that Bruce would be impressed.