The Volebeats The Volebeats "The Volebeats"
Like a band playing with their backs to the audience, Detroit's The Volebeats give the impression they're playing for themselves. Recorded on analogue 8 track tape in a house not far from the old Motown studios, this AM radio influenced record is choc full of hooks, harmonies, subtly assured playing and total indifference to the 21st Century. Unless told otherwise, you would be forgiven for thinking this was a lost late 60s album of the Cosmic American Music category, inspired as it is by Detroit music, Memphis music, country, folk and British invasion. Once labelled "the best American band" by none other than Ryan Adams, it's not so hard to see why. There’s no filler here which is remarkable in a 19 song set. There’s highlights sure, like the beautifully sad, country tinged gems, Sadness Kicked the Door In and the heartbreaking Like You Mean It, a song lesser bands will spend their entire careers trying to write; sixties pop nuggets like 1000 Miles of Confusion, the blinded-by-love Things People Say and the folky Kathleen No! These particular songs, for example, give the record some variation as, and this is by no means a criticism, the sound doesn’t change that much, just the tempo and mood, which is understated, vaguely melancholic, wistful and longing, like sitting at a coffee bar on a rainy autumn day, watching the beautiful girls pass by, knowing they’d never see you as you see them.
Overall, it’s a cracking, secret, gem of a record. Like listening in on a bunch of pals playing songs in the style of the various musics they love, playing just for fun, for their own enjoyment and it’s this approach which gives The Volebeats so much authenticity and honesty, it’s actually genuinely affecting. No production tricks, no fat, nothing unnecessary. Just great songs, great playing, great harmonies and great arrangements. Just a great album with nothing to prove, and in a time when style and substance are often confused, that’s a rare thing indeed.