On 2005's Howl, the California outfit ditched its leather-clad garage stomp for rootsy folk rock dedicated to the Dylans of Americana. Howl is great, but to quote a song off BRMC's 2000 debut, "Whatever Happened to My Rock 'n' Roll?"
With drummer and percussionist Nick Jago back on point (he left the band during the making of Howl because of drug problems), BRMC revives its rawk with Baby 81, its new disc. Packing the kick drum with dynamite and plugging their guitars into radioactive amps, the trio opens with "Berlin," a jam that explodes like the Stooges' "Search and Destroy" while sounding better than My Bloody Valentine.
Howl's blues and folk inflections, however, haven't totally disappeared. On "Windows" the band tosses a piano into the mix. And on "American X," a bony, goth ballad, BRMC unleashes what just might be its first guitar solo.
The sonic grandeur of Baby 81 proves that Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is evolving ever closer to its idols: the Velvet Underground, the Stone Roses, and the Jesus and Mary Chain.