This Tennessee fire’s burned for a long time. Cut from Universal after refusing to cover “All You Need is Love” for a commercial, these frontrunners for “World’s Most Underrated Band” exact revenge the only way they know how: making a landmark album, steeped in skewed interpretations of rock that rupture and boil from beginning to end.
Built, at first, around singer-guitarist Matthew Pelham, every measure of Salvation feels handcrafted by musicians who want to engage you, not insult you. It’s hard not to think briefly of The Features’ major-label split on “The Drawing Board” (We’ll just meet back here/and do it again). By “Temporary Blues” — which will, in short order, become ubiquitous (I’m talking to you, AAA) — Pelham’s unifying wail sparks an uplifting sentiment: “Their loss, not ours.”
Where “The Gates of Hell” and “Baby’s Hammer” are smooth delicacies, “Wooden Heart” flexes with damaged verse, carnival horns and Rollum Haas’ on-point bashing. The brooding electronic foundation of “Concrete” contrasts perfectly with Pelham’s conversational croon. My deconstruction is through: It’s a winner.