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The Temperance Movement - A Deeper Cut (Album Review)

Friday, 23 February 2018 Written by Simon Ramsay

There was a time in rock ‘n’ roll’s glorious history when a band’s third album was seen as a pivotal moment, one that would either catapult them to stardom or sound their death knell. In today’s climate the chance of any rock act achieving huge success seems about as likely as Cristiano Ronaldo voluntarily removing all the mirrors from his mansion. Yet fans have never given up hope that maybe, just maybe, a group will emerge to buck the trend.

Over the last five years, the Temperance Movement have looked as likely as anyone to make that leap. Being handpicked to support the Rolling Stones in 2014 cemented their credentials, but it was the British quintet’s self-titled debut the previous year that, thanks to a timeless blend of impeccably crafted Southern-edged rock ‘n’ roll and authentic Laurel Canyon-styled balladry, posited them as ones to watch.

Forward thinking follow-up ‘White Bear’ subsequently kicked things into a higher gear. Its cocktail of bluesy arena-rock and indie grooves added a contemporary edge that suggested they were an ambitious band gunning for the big time.

Since that sophomore release, however, both guitarist and founding member Luke Potashnick, as well as drummer Damon Wilson, have departed. Whether or not those changes have impacted on the musical direction of ‘A Deeper Cut’ is unknown.  Either way, their third album is a return to the sound of their bow.

Such a stylistic backstroke appears to be a sage pivot during this record’s bulletproof first side. Caught In The Middle, Love and Devotion and Built-In Forgetter (file its chorus under ‘to die for’) are infectiously addictive rock anthems propped up by hip-shaking rhythmic work. Backwater Zoo, meanwhile, is a dippy delight where a funky Muscle Shoals spring will have you moving like a certain Jagger.  

As individual musicians the Temperance Movement, although well versed in their chosen genre, are functional rather than spectacular. It’s singer Phil Campbell, the band’s blue-eyed soulful Scotsman, who makes them extra special. Few contemporary vocalists are as adept at delivering roasting rock ‘n’ roll songs, packed with grit and passion, alongside tenderly crooned ballads like the title track and Another Spiral.

Unfortunately, this record becomes hampered by poor choices during its uneven second side. Apart from The Way It Was And The Way It is Now, a jolly bit of Faces-esque filler, mid-tempo tunes and ballads dominate. There’s Still Time, Children and Higher Than The Sun are as soulful and stirring as anything on their previous two records, but it’s hard to believe no one realised momentum and variety were badly needed at this stage. 

A couple of storming cuts, like Midnight Black or Take It Back, not to mention some of the exciting fresh textures of ‘White Bear’, would have improved the back end of a record that’s crying out for something to raise the pulse rate.

‘A Deeper Cut’ is far from a disaster and, at its best, has enough to sustain the Temperance Movement’s status as one of Britain’s finest young rock acts. Had its early quality been maintained it would have been a flawless return to their early sound, but it’s difficult to shake the feeling they’ve retreated with a stumble when bravely bounding forwards - to become the mainstream-crashing heroes rock fans have been holding out for – was a path they were more than capable of travelling.

The Temperance Movement Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun February 25 2018 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Tue February 27 2018 - DUBLIN Grand Social
Wed February 28 2018 - BELFAST Empire Music Hall
Fri March 02 2018 - ABERDEEN Garage
Sat March 03 2018 - GLASGOW Barrowland
Sun March 04 2018 - NEWCASTLE University Student Union
Mon March 05 2018 - SHEFFIELD O2 Academy Sheffield
Wed March 07 2018 - PORTSMOUTH Portsmouth Pyramids
Thu March 08 2018 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Fri March 09 2018 - LONDON O2 Forum Kentish Town

Click here to compare & buy The Temperance Movement Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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