Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, 'Baby 81' (RCA)

8
Baby 81
Critical Mass
Label: RCA

by Jason Gross

Fourth albums usually aren't peaks for bands, but these former next-big-thing drone rockers have never sounded more self-assured. The soulful edge they developed on 2005's roots detour Howl is evident on the folky "It's Not What You Wanted," while a recent attraction to Britpop yields expertly crafted songs like the angry, political "Weapon of Choice" and the brooding crooner "Window." Though singer Peter Hayes always had a heady, shades-on swagger, now he actually seems to believe what he's singing.

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